Please Cut These 3 Common Words From Your Emails—They Sound Rude

Sophie Miura

If, like me, you write a torrent of emails every day, it’s unlikely you pause to reconsider what you’ve written. When you work in a fast-paced office, writing emails becomes second nature, and it rarely comes to mind as an area of communication we should second-guess—but it is. That’s because email is wildly different from verbal communication. It’s difficult to indicate tone with a keyboard, and all those nonverbal cues are lost on-screen. A recent article for The Muse suggests there are three common words we use in everyday language that don’t belong in email. Read on to discover which simple words to cut from your email vocabulary to sound more professional.

That simple word you keep dropping in your emails? It's actually giving off a completely different message than what you intend. Carolyn Kopprasch, chief happiness officer at Buffer, says the word is banned from her email vocabulary. “It almost doesn’t matter how good the news is; if it comes after actually, I feel like I was somehow wrong about something,” she explains. Actually indicates sass and can have undertones of attitude, even if you don’t mean it to.

What you can swap it for: “Sure thing,” “definitely,” “got it,” “understandable,” or “I see.”

Apologizing for a mistake when it’s warranted is fine, but if you have a tendency to say sorry too often over email, it could reflect badly. “Sorry is so overused,” says Aja Frost in her article for The Muse. It’s such a common phrase that it’s lost its potency and integrity. “It tends to feel flippant and non-genuine,” she says. Next time you type the word sorry in an email, try taking it out and seeing how the sentence reads. We have other ways of showing remorse without the word sorry, and chances are that you’ve already left traces of them in your email, even without the keyword.

What you can swap it for: “I apologise,” “you’re right,” “going forward, I will…,” “I understand why you’re upset.”

Eliminating all first-person words from your email vocabulary is nearly impossible, but according to Frost, being more aware of how often you use them is key to sounding more professional. Words like me, myself, and I are all egocentric. Without realising it, by using these words, you’re drawing attention to yourself and potentially making your language personal, rather than professional.

“It’s not just the word me I wanted to avoid. It was everything me represents—being internally focused, rather than concentrating on how I can help the people I interact with every day,” says Frost. To test out her theory, she rewrote an email to a colleague that originally read, “Could you please send me the info on next Wednesday’s campaign launch?” When she removed the word me, she was forced to focus on how her efforts were “benefiting our mission and company as a whole, which ultimately makes my communication more effective,” she explains.

What you can swap them for: “The team,” “we,” “you,” “us,” “our company.”

Feeling inspired? Shop these desk essentials that will work wonders for your career, and then check out The Muse to read more on what your email vocabulary says about you.

Do you have a common word that often gets misconstrued over email? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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