Some words should never be used in email.
Some words make you sound insecure.
Some words make you seem silly.
Some words make you seem like you don’t have what it takes to execute.
But get this:
You can avoid these words by simply understanding how they’re perceived and the negative impact they can have in your emails or meetings.
The truth is, we don’t spend a lot of time in our careers understanding the power and value of our words but the impact can be the difference between landing a promotion or standing still.
The way we interact with clients, prospects and colleagues is an important skillset that is often overlooked. The way we interact with one another can help us close deals, build trust, delegate tasks and lead effectively.
1. I won’t…
No one likes hearing sentences that start with “I won’t” and when we hear it we instantly assume that the reason what we asked for can’t happen is the person talking.
There is nothing wrong with not being able to do something whether it is because of circumstances, time line, or even technical limitations. That being said, you want to always give an alternate solution. If it is a technical limitation something like “Can we use program X for Y?” a reply of “No program X can’t handle that task, but we could look to use…” will show that you are on the ball and that the issue lies not with you but with the method.
If you are unable to do something simply answer with the solutions:
- can’t stay at work late, tell them you can come in early.
- don’t know how to do a certain task, say you will require assistance but that you have no problem learning the task!
No one like to hear I won’t but everyone like someone willing to try, to learn, to be better!
2. I might…
You either can or you can’t and there is nothing actually wrong with either of those things (depending on how you say it) but never might! Might is weak language that leaves the possibility that something won’t be done in time or will not be taken care of.
I am not telling you to agree to everything but I am telling you that you need to give firm answers, and leave no room for mystery as to when something will be done or what you will be taking care of for a client, colleague or potential business partner.
3. I’m sorry…
Ideally you haven’t done anything that you need to apologize for and many of us (Canadians especially) use sorry when there is really no need to! By saying sorry when you haven’t done anything wrong you put yourself at a disadvantage. You are holding a sign that says blame me, I already said sorry so please forgive me!
The worst time to say sorry is when you don’t actually mean it. For example, if you’re too busy to meet up, don’t apologize for it. If you’re too focused on your startup to grab coffee, don’t apologize for it. If you’re too busy to jump on a call, don’t apologize for it!
Sometimes things go wrong and in those cases, saying sorry makes sense. For example, if you tell someone you’ll meet them at 3:00PM but mix up your timezones – It’s okay to apologize. If you have made a mistake, don’t be afraid to do it in person or at the minimum pick up your phone and call.
4. It’s impossible…
Never say this!
Nothing is impossible!
That being said sometimes you need a work around or an alternative solution and that is why people want, a solution!
What you are saying to someone when you say that something is impossible is that you don’t know how to do something and you don’t know any other way around the problem and nothing will shake someone’s confidence in you more.
5. I’m worried…
“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
― Dalai Lama XIV
At the core, there is nothing wrong with being worried, it shows you are aware of what is happening and it shows you where you need to be focused. That being said you never want to actually say you are worried, you need to figure out the problem and focus how it can be fixed.
If you are worried about something you need to be working on it! (Tweet This!) Focus on the solution rather than the problem. This is one of the key pieces of advice I learned in my first 10,000 days on earth.
6. I’ll likely…
This falls under the same trap as “might”, this is might’s more optimistic brother, it’s just a little bit more hopeful but still leaves someone totally in the dark as to if work is being done.
All people want security and when you say you will do something rather than you are likely to do something that is what you are giving them. Security that you can take care of their needs and that you were the right person to ask.
Email’s are not the same as conversation and because of this you need to be more careful in the words you choose and be aware of how positive or negative they sound. You have the luxury to be able to craft a message, not simply respond as you would in conversation. By taking advantage of that and make sure that you never use any of the 6 phrases above you will instill people with a sense of confidence in you.
Remember it all boils down to how confident the other parties involved in the email feel when they read it, you want them to feel secure, you want them to trust you, and you want to always be the one with a solution!
What are some other words or phrases you try and avoid in your emails? Let us know in the comments below or tweet at us @hustlegrindco!