My old-fashioned, Southern upbringing is one of the things I love about myself. I was taught to put others first, say “please” and “thank you,” and develop a lifelong appreciation for sweet tea. However, that others-before-self mindset can backfire when it comes to email etiquette.
I’m not the first to make mistakes navigating the complexities of the business world and business emails, but perhaps I can use my experience (the good and the bad) to help others. Here are a few things I’ve learned about business email communication that have helped me elevate my professionalism and given me increased confidence here at Goodwin Recruiting.
- Stop using the word “just.” This is a common email mistake and one I have become hyperaware of and deliberately remove from my professional emails. How many times have I reached out for information and said, “Just following up” or “just checking in”? My intention may be to soften a request that could be misinterpreted as a demand, but the result is my message is weakened. Instead, say, “I’m following up on our conversation from last week to see what additional questions you have.” Think of email content like body language – confidence is key.
- Don’t be sorry when you aren’t. Of course, a sincere apology is completely appropriate when a real mistake has been made. However, overuse of this word can hurt your credibility. Instead of saying “sorry for the late reply,” opt for “thank you for your patience.” You can replace “Sorry to bother you” with “I appreciate your time.” For those who are repeat offenders, this Chrome extension will double-check your writing and send notifications when your word choice undermines your message.
- Hope this email finds you well! This one has become one of my personal pet peeves of the Covid era. I get that it is meant kindly; we all want our co-workers to be happy and thriving, but the reality is people everywhere are struggling. Despite its best intention, this cliché phrase is overused. If sent to the wrong person having a rough day, it may cause annoyance instead of the intended friendly message of compassion.
- “I feel.” We all have feelings, and at times, it can be challenging to separate them from facts. There is a time and a place for opinions. But in professional email communication, you will come across as more confident when you speak in terms of specifics, using data and bullet points to back up your position.
- Overuse of qualifiers. You may not know the term, but you could be overusing them in your professional emails. Qualifiers are words that attribute a quality to another word. “Really” and “very” are words that are often overused and can make the writer seem immature. Contradictions can also make your thoughts too long or unclear. “I know you have more experience, but I really feel we should choose the other vendor as our EAP service, but I’ll go with whatever you decide” is far less effective than “This EAP provider will deliver us faster service at a lower price point than our current vendor.” Simple messages are more effective than a long email – say more with less!
No matter where you come from, the nuances of email communication are constantly changing. We at Goodwin Recruiting want our clients and candidates to put their best foot forward, so if you need a recruiting partner to help proofread, provide feedback on an important email, improve an email signature, or whatever the case may be – we are here to help you navigate the challenges of work emails and the business world. Reach out to us today!