We are all writing every single day, whether it’s in a text message to your mom or a formal report for your boss. We know enough not to put an emoticon in an email to the company president, but what else can you leave out? Check out these three words and phrases that you should leave out of your professional communication to deliver your message more powerfully.
We insert “just” because we don’t want to appear too forward or too presumptive but in a business environment, you should leave it out. While it might not be your intention, the word “just” conveys a sense of timidity in your communication and hurts your perceived confidence level. At the beginning of my career, I used the word “just” in 90 percent of my emails to anyone superior to me because I didn’t want to appear to be too demanding. I didn’t think anyone really noticed until, during a performance review, my boss told me to cut the “just” because it made me sound scared every single time. Eliminating the word is hard for sure, but you’ll give yourself a boost of confidence when you don’t use it as a pacifier.
The phrase “I’m sorry” is another that cuts down the perceived confidence of your inter-office communication. I’m often guilty of typing something along the lines of “Sorry to ask again, but…” when I’m following up with someone about a piece of information I need. That automatic apology tends to convey that you think their work is more important than yours, even if that's not the c. Instead of beginning with “sorry,” ask the person on the other end of the email if they have the information that you’ve request and remind them of the role that their piece of the puzzle has in the overall scope of the project. You don’t have to be harsh, but you do have to be confident and eliminating the apology is a step in the right direction.
In my opinion, the phrase “Thanks!” at the end of an email is the hardest to eliminate. You’ve gotten rid of all of the other pacifiers in your message, so a quick “Thanks!” at the end lets your recipient know that you’re still cool and fun, even if you’re asking them to do something for you. The phrase, however, can adopt a sort of passive-aggressive or sarcastic tone when used in those situations since it assumes that your recipient is going to do whatever has been requested. To avoid the cross-office side-eye, pick a different salutation and move right along.
As you work to eliminate damaging words from your vocabulary, take a look at some of the positive trigger words
that can help you go from “being good” to “getting better.”