Seven words that make you sound less confident in emails
UK office workers spend, on average, a whopping three months a year sending and receiving emails. With the majority of workplace communication now taking place over email it’s important to make sure that you sound like an absolute pro.
Avoid using the following words in your emails and your perceived confidence and competence will completely skyrocket!
Opening an email with the word ‘just’ downplays the importance of everything else that is included in the email by implying that your request does not need to be prioritised.
For example: ‘I just want to check if you have any feedback on the proposal I sent over’
Instead say: “Do you have feedback on the proposal? I need it by the end of the day.”
Similar words to avoid: only, simply
Probably implies that you are uncertain about something. If you don’t think it’s going to happen, then give a more realistic alternative.
For example: “I can probably send the website copy to you by noon.”
Instead say: “I won’t be able to send the website copy to you by noon as I’m working on the press release. I will send it to you at the end of the day.”
Similar words to avoid: perhaps, hopefully, ideally, maybe, possible, should
Using the word try says to people that you aren’t confident in your abilities. If you’re unsure about whether you are able to complete a task then be upfront about it and ask for help or guidance. Remember, it’s never a bad thing to ask questions or for advice!
For example: “I’ll try to update the budget”
Instead say: “I will update the budget, but I have a few questions. Do you have five minutes to meet before I start?”
Similar words to avoid: attempt
When you use the word think, it allows people to dismiss what you’re about to say. Be confident in the strength of your opinions and recommendations!
For example: “I think we should check the research.”
Instead say: “Let’s check the research”
Similar words and phrases to avoid: in my opinion, personally, I’m not but, I feel like
Whatever sounds very dismissive and implies that you're not concerned about being accurate. Both of which will make your colleagues and clients question your professionalism.
For example: “I saw the client’s email about whatever. I’ll offer them a discount of whatever.”
Instead say: “I saw the client’s email about the costings. I’ll offer them a discount on the amount we’ve proposed.”
Similar words and phrases to avoid: something, whatnot
Maybe makes you sound quite ambivalent and apprehensive about what you’re about to say.
For example: “Maybe I should set up a meeting with Sarah.”
Instead say: “I will set up a meeting Sarah.”
Similar words and phrases to avoid: I guess, perhaps
The majority of the time, sorry is a completely unnecessary word and diminishes the value of your voice. Always make statements and ask for what you need without apologising beforehand.
Example: “I’m sorry, but I have a meeting at 10am. Could 11.30am work?”
Instead say: “I have a meeting at 10am. Can you do 11.30am?”
Similar words to avoid: apologies