Nowadays it can feel like 90 percent of corporate communication is done over email. I’ve even worked in offices where my colleagues would email each other every little thing from their desks instead of walking the 10 feet to chat in person. And while I definitely wouldn’t recommend eliminating face-to-face meetings or phone calls to that extent, you can’t deny the fact that email communication is extremely efficient and integral to almost any business.
Having good email communication skills can be a key component of your corporate success. Just like you would in person, you want to come across as confident, direct, and self-assured in every message you send. There is a certain way to phrase things to get the results you are looking for, whether you’re setting a meeting to ask for a promotion or requesting help from a colleague on a big project.
Around our office, I’m known as the person to have proofread your emails. Communication comes easy to me, and I’m always happy to give a once-over to a coworker’s email before they hit send on an important message. But even I am constantly trying to refine my email writing skills and make every message I send clearer, more concise, and more self-assured. So with that in mind, I wanted to share four words that I have recently eliminated from my emails. Read on below to hear why you might want to strike “just,” “think,” “urgent,” and “amazing” from your vocabulary.
This 2016 Glamour article, titled “Why I Quit Using the Word Just in My Emails,” was the impetus for me reexamining my own email lexicon to begin with. In it the author explains how the word “just” minimizes whatever follows it, and makes your request seem less important. Using the word “just” can make you appear as meek or apologetic when you don’t need to be. For example, compare “Hi Annie—I just wanted to see if you had any feedback on the report I sent you last week…” with “Hi Annie—I wanted to see if you had any feedback on the report I sent you last week…”
“Think” is another word that can make you appear less confident in whatever statement you are making. Compare “I think this strategy has the potential to boost sales by 50 percent” with “This strategy has the potential to boost sales by 50 percent.” It should already be clear that the opinion you are putting forth is your own—and you want to stand behind it 100 percent. Removing the “I think” makes you sound much more self-assured.
Urgent or ASAP
If you need a task completed within a certain timeframe, be as clear and direct as possible. Giving a specific deadline is much more helpful for everyone involved than using language like “ASAP,” which can also cause stress for whoever is on the receiving end of your email. Instead of saying something is urgent or needs to be done ASAP, try using actual times like “before lunch today” or “by the end of the week.” And if you need something done urgently, it doesn’t hurt to explain why, so that your colleague is on the same page in understanding why this task needs to take priority.
Eliminating this word has proved to be the biggest challenge for me. There’s nothing inherently harmful about using the word “amazing” in your emails, but it’s definitely become a cliché of corporate communication—and once you start to notice its overuse, it will begin to bug you. (“If you could send over the report by EOD, that would be amazing.” or “Hope you’re having an amazing week!”) As a result of its overuse, this word has lost it’s meaning. So the next time you catch yourself telling someone their completion of a menial task would be “amazing,” try replacing the word with something more specific—like “really helpful,” “exactly what I need to complete the project,” “ideal for the timeline we’re working with.”
Would you agree with this list?
Share your own thoughts and professional communication tips in the comments below.