14 words and phrases you should not use in emails
One wrongly used word or phrase could show your email, and you, in a completely different light! These words make you sound rude or pretentious. Avoid them!
With emails being the primary communication source between employers and employees, and business owners and clients, it is very important that you do not unknowingly use certain words that might offend the person on the other side or show you in a light which isn’t completely positive.
A wrongly used word might make or break a partnership. You need to make sure your message gets across in a positive manner and elicits a positive response in return rather than stoic silence. So, we all need to brush up on our email etiquettes to stay in tune with the digital communication norms.
Read: 10 basic email etiquettes you should know
Here are 15 words that you should not be using in emails along with certain replacements that you should consider:
Starting an email with just Hey or Hi gives a unprofessional impression. After all, you are not talking to an age old friend. If however, you have been conversing with the person for some time, you can add the name after Hi, or start the mail with just the name.
Most often than not, this word is used often and erroneously. It is not even a very important word to use and when used in a false context, it can lower your impression in the eyes of the person who reads your email. Literally is used to denote something as it exactly happened. So you cannot literally be melting in the heat, or literally be running around for 48 hours a day.
This word has become old and antiquated. Replacing ‘kindly’ with please makes you sound more genuine and less Victorian.
One word reply to emails will make the sender feel unacknowledged and definitely won’t make him or her happy. No need to go the whole hog and write a whole paragraph, but a line with something like “Thank you <name>, I understood your concerns and they have been duly noted.” Or “Okay <name>, I will make the changes you asked for. Thank you!” will go a long way in improving your work relations through your digital communication skills.
The word ‘obviously’ can come across as very condescending to the reader as it denotes that the writer is saying something that should have been obvious to the reader but somehow he/she isn’t smart enough to catch it. Omit it from your email.
This word is usually a prelude to a bad news or a negative statement coming up. For example, in the sentence ‘I would really like the meeting o go forward tomorrow, but I have an urgent event that needs to be covered’, the moment the reader reads ‘but’, he/she experiences an instant fall in expectations.
You can skip the word ‘but’ and write what you mean in a slightly different manner which doesn’t take down the reader’s expectation, such as: ‘I would really like the meeting to go forward tomorrow. Regrettably, I have an urgent event that needs to be covered.’
7. Utilise (and other technical terms)
Business jargon is expected in mails between business clients. However, they do make the reader lose interest and often skip over to the important parts. So, try to use simple language and facts which can make the reader feel you are right there in front of him/her explaining it verbally.
When you say ‘apparently’, it sounds like you disagree with the comment coming after that. For example, ‘Apparently, the article was too long and I need to shorten it’ sounds like the article being long is someone else’s opinion and you do not agree to it. It sounds like you are questioning someone’s decision or showing your disapproval.
9. Me/ I
Use fewer words that point to you and more words which point to the email reader. Turn around sentences to use words like ‘you’ and ‘your’. This makes the email more important to the other person as it removes the focus from the email sender to the email receiver.
A direct no comes across as very offensive and rude in an email. If you are denying something, whether it be a meeting, an idea or an article to publish, provide context regarding why you are denying it. Usually you can do it without even using the word ‘no’. You can also add a sorry to the reason.
The word ‘fine’ has a dismissive tone to it and can often be mistaken for a negative connotation. It’s best to replace it with ‘good’ if you are using it to describe something positively. Rather than saying “Your idea is a fine one”, say “Your idea is a good one”. It sounds more positive. In case you have something negative to say, explain it properly rather than leaving your reader wondering what you actually mean with a one-worded reply.
This is another word which doesn’t have much of a use when writing emails. It might sound okay when you are speaking to someone verbally or having a face-to-face conversation, but it can come off as pretty rude in emails. For example: ‘I actually think it might be a good idea to wait for the scheme to be launched officially before we write about it’ sounds more conceited than ‘I think it might be a good idea to wait for the scheme to be launched officially before we write about it.’
This word makes you sound serious and sombre. It sounds like you are ‘respectfully’ taking a negative decision that is not going to help the reader. Omit this word for a softer touch to your mails.
14. Sincerely yours/ truly yours/very truly yours
These sign off phrases might have sounded okay in the Victorian era, but we hardly write any letters anymore and the terminology needs to be more professional in the digital era of emails. A simple sign off with ‘regards’ or ‘faithfully’ would work better in this case. Just pay attention to how familiar you are to the other person and use sign off terms accordingly.
The trick to writing a comfortable, readable email is to remove yourself from cliches and harsh professional tones, and instead opt for something more closer to home, with sincere words that are not totally business-like, but not too familiar either.