The tone and use of your words in a written work document has never held as much presence as it does today. Working from home and away from our colleagues in the office means that written communication has wildly overtaken verbal communication in the workplace and so it’s a great time to look at the power of your emails and correspondence and see potentially how it could be holding you back by undermining your confidence.
Linked to habits in our verbal communication but without the assistance of body language and tone of voice to aid the message, there are a few words that can easily slip into your daily emails which will instantly set you at a disadvantage.
‘Just’ has become one of those frequently used words, like ‘literally’ and ‘actually’ that has been included in our daily conversations to help amplify or exaggerate a friendly message or story, however for written communication, it holds a completely different tone. By starting a sentence with the word ‘Just’ you set yourself as an inconvenience to the receiver. It suggests a meeker appearance that you are ‘just’ quickly interrupting them for something and it can instantly minimize your request.
Instead of ‘Just checking in’ try ‘I am checking in to see if…’
Instead of ‘Just wanted to see if you received the PDF…’ try ‘’I am emailing to confirm you received the PDF last week?’
Over apologising is a common factor in knocking your written communication, we do it so frequently day to day verbally that it has easily slipped into our daily texts and emails too. We aren’t saying don’t apologise when you are in the wrong but assess if this is a situation you really need to be apologising for, and if it is, picking up the phone may be the best way to go. Using sorry too much in our daily conversation means it can lose its effectiveness, so it is best kept for those genuine moments when a heartfelt apology may be needed.
Instead of ‘Sorry for not replying yesterday’ try ‘Thank you for your patience in waiting for my reply’
Instead of ‘Sorry I cannot fit this in today’ try ‘I know this is a priority for you, so I can give you my full attention, are you available for a call tomorrow to discuss?’
Hopefully or Kind Of
Another pair of words that can easily take the confidence out of a sentence is ‘hopefully’ and ‘kind of’. If you let someone know something is ‘kind-of nearly complete’ it leaves the reader second-guessing how much of the project is really ready to go.
Hopefully brings similar feelings and can equally hinder an email’s effectiveness. By communicating that you are hopeful things will work out or that you will get something done, it can give the impression that you don’t have control over the situation, and when this comes to things like project deadlines, it could leave you looking unreliable.
Instead of ‘The project is kind of ready to go’ try ‘The project has a few small areas to iron out but I am confident it will be ready in 48hours’
Instead of ‘Hopefully we can meet to discuss soon?’ try ‘It would be great to discuss this in person or over the phone. When is a good time for you?’
I Can’t or That’s Impossible
We’re not telling you to say yes to everything, but ‘I can’t’ or terms like ‘that’s impossible’ can bring a hugely negative and unsuccessful tone to a conversation. Try turning the phrase on its head and saying what can be done. Be the person to bring a positive solution to the conversation rather than the problem.
Instead of ‘I can’t start the next phase until this is ready’ try ‘As soon as phase one is complete, I can start on the next part of the project’
Instead of ‘I can’t make any of those dates’ try ‘I am fully booked those days but have availability on the Tuesday or Wednesday if those work with your schedule?’
Instead of ‘That’s impossible, you’ll need a plug in for that kind of task’ try ‘A plug in could help us achieve that on our current software’
The aim for confidence is to keep the tone polite but assertive. You are an important part of the company no matter how senior or entry-level your role may be, and by delivering your communications with those around you in confidence and positive tones, you help to project yourself as someone who is in full control of their work and position.
If you’d like to see more advice on positive workplace behaviours, check out our previous blogs on ‘Kindness in the Workplace‘ or ‘Tips to Keep Motivated at Work‘