7 Simple Phrases to Project More Confidence in Emails

7 Simple Phrases to Project More Confidence in Emails

Have you ever wondered how the people you work with might perceive you simply based on the emails you send?

What word do you think they would use to describe you? Passive? Aggressive? Assertive? Capable? Confident?

This may not matter to you so much if you’re not in a client facing role and aren’t seeking to impress. But think of it this way – aren’t we all seeking to impress someone when it comes to our work?

Consider your boss, manager or even those who report to you as though they’re your client or customer. When you interact with your clients or customers, your main goal is to build trust, for them to put their confidence in you as their service provider/supplier.

Now, imagine your client has never met you face-to-face and has absolutely no reference point to develop their impression of you, except your email correspondence. You’d like to think that you project enough confidence for your client to see you as capable of handling their business!

You could be the smartest person in the room with second-to-none people skills but that can easily get lost in the translation of emails simply because of word choice. It doesn’t matter how information-packed your beautifully written email is, a single word or phrase can so powerfully undermine your projected confidence. Annoying, huh?

 

Learning from my mistakes

In my years of consulting, I had to learn to use every word in my emails with intention to build trust with the client on the other end of the email (read about how to keep your emails professional here). It didn’t come easily. There are some phrases in our vocabulary that we tend to use out of habit. At times, we may use these phrases intentionally to soften our language for fear of being seen as too “aggressive”.

Aggressiveness is too often confused with assertiveness. You should never have to apologise for or lessen your assertiveness to please another person! This is especially true in a work environment.

The last thing I want is for you to make the same mistakes I made. The value of your eloquent emails shouldn’t be weakened by a questionable phrase that instils doubt rather than confidence in your reader.

So, I’m going to share with you a few words and phrases to leave out of your next work email and simple tweaks to boost the power of your message.

Blog Graphic for Pinterest

 

#1 Using the word “just”

For example, “I’m just checking in to see whether you have any feedback on…”

This little word so easily slips in there as a force of habit to seem less direct in our follow ups. The thing is, all it does is diminish the value of the statement to follow.

Replace it with: NOTHING. Remove the word completely from the sentence

 

#2 Beginning your email with “Sorry to bother you…”

You’re apologising for sending an email that the other person will likely read at a time that is most convenient to them. Therefore, you’re not bothering them. So, don’t apologise for it!

Replace it with: Again, nothing. Eliminate this phrase as the appetiser for your email and get right to the main meal.

I recognise that this phrase might be used more in phone calls, so I’ll also throw in a bonus piece of advice. If you’re genuinely concerned about bothering the person with your call, start the conversation with “have I got you at a good time?” It’s that easy!

 

#3 Prefacing the purpose of your email with “I know you’re busy, but…” 

With everything we seek to achieve in any given work day, it’s likely that everyone is busy, including you. This phrase only implies that their time is more valuable than yours. Write your email as though what you’re sharing will be worth their time.

Replace it with: “I’d appreciate your time to consider…” sends the message that you value their time without unnecessarily elevating its importance.

 

#4 Beginning a sentence with “I think”

Sure, you’re sharing a thought and that’s exactly what it is, your thoughts. Using “I think” is probably okay when you’re brainstorming via email with your close team. However, when used with a client, it could introduce an element of doubt when it comes to your authority on the topic, compared to a more conclusive statement.

Replace it with: “From my experience…” already implies the credibility of your opinion. If you have no direct experience on the topic, then you can say “from my perspective…” to project greater confidence.

 

#5 Opening a recommendation with “Maybe we should…”

Like the phrase “I think”, the word “Maybe” before making a recommendation only suggests that you don’t have full confidence in what you’re about to propose. Maybe you don’t, but you don’t need the other person to pick up on that.

Replace it with: “I suggest…” communicates that what you’re putting forward isn’t a definitive recommendation but a suggestion, without the undertones of doubt.

 

#6 Following a suggestion with “Is that okay?”

This question, like a reflex, pops up out of nowhere when making suggestions within emails. Perhaps it’s because we’re wanting to be inclusive in decision making or seeking confirmation to cover ourselves before we go ahead and implement.

Whatever the reason, there’s a better way. A way that doesn’t weaken the credibility of your incredibly thoughtful suggestion.

Replace it with: “What are your thoughts?” or “Let me know your thoughts” to allow the other person to provide feedback.

 

#7 Responding to a thank you with “no problem” or “it’s nothing”

I’m not going to lie, I’m guilty of using this response more often than I should! On face value, there’s nothing wrong with these phrases, in fact they’re very common in the “no worries mate” Australian culture.

When it comes to work though, these phrases can lessen the appearance of your work effort, especially if you busted your butt on that project or completed a task that took a considerable amount of work. That’s not nothing!

Replace it with: “You’re welcome” is an appropriate response that doesn’t undermine all your hard work or imply that you could produce the same result in a mere few seconds.

 

Summary Infographic for social sharing

Make these simple phrase adjustments and you immediately sound more confident in emails!

If emails are like the bread and butter of your business and you still don’t feel confident, get in touch with me so we can chat about how I can help you!

By now, you’ve probably noticed these are also phrases you use when speaking to your clients or work colleagues. The same substitutes can be used in your next meeting to confidently contribute to the conversation.

If you’ve made it this far, I appreciate you taking the time to read this post. While you’re here, check out a related post on How To Keep Your Work Emails Professional.

Why not spare another minute and leave a comment? What phrase do you find yourself using the most in your emails or conversations?

How to Write the Perfect Christmas Card

How to Write the Perfect Christmas Card

It’s that time of year again.

As strange and intense as this past year has been, I still feel like it’s flown by! Do you feel the same way?

With Christmas approaching, you notice your calendar filling up and your bank account running on almost empty. It’s a busy and expensive time of year.

Though December 25th comes every year, this year it looks different.

That extravagant, company-wide celebration you always look forward to (or dread, take your pick) has become a more intimate gathering with your close team.

That overseas holiday to escape the inevitable drama that comes with spending Christmas with the family – no longer an option.

Yes, much has changed in the last 12 months but do you know what still remains the same? Those Christmas cards you need to write to your family, friends, colleagues and clients, now conveniently moved to the bottom of your to-do list.

I don’t blame you. I’m a writer and writing Christmas cards is still something that I endure at times. Get me to write a birthday card any day but a Christmas card? It feels so…forced.

Why take the time to thoughtfully write a card, only for it to be thrown in the trash as soon as the New Year ticks over? It seems pointless, right?

Well, my friend, here’s some guidance on how to write a Christmas card they’ll want to keep for years to come!

Perfect Christmas card_Blog Graphic for Pinterest

 

1. Don’t leave the message up to Hallmark

Ditch the generic greeting that thousands of others will also receive and make your message an original. You don’t have buy a blank card (but if you do, nice effort!) but at least add your own words to the ones already written in the card.

Make it personal, a message that is relevant to them and no one else. Depending on the nature of your relationship, write to get them laughing or write a positive tear jerker. Either way, aim to evoke emotion. If you’re successful, you’ve secured your spot on their tree (window sill or fridge) for the next few weeks and their box of memories for the next few years.

 

2. Start by reflecting on the PAST year

If this person really matters to you, don’t just write their card on autopilot, take a few moments to give it some thought.

What is something you remember from the past year with this person? Write about that – a memory or anecdote which will get them reflecting on the year that was.

Who is this person in your life? Let them know they’re valued by mentioning what their relationship means to you.

 

3. Bring it to the PRESENT

No one wants to stay stuck in the past, especially after a year like 2020, which would have been challenging for most. Acknowledge the present by giving them best wishes for the season, no matter what they believe in.

For many, Christmas can be a difficult time of year. So, let your card be the thing that brings them joy and hope in this season. At the very least, you’ll light up their day after they read your intentionally written card.

 

4. Speak into the FUTURE

Now, let’s look ahead to the future. Unless you don’t see this person in your future, don’t close with “see you around” like an acquaintance at work writes in a farewell card.

What are you looking forward to with the person receiving your card? Creating more memories? More laughter? More meaningful conversations? Whatever is in your head, if it’s encouraging, don’t let it go unsaid!

 

If you need an example to inspire you, here’s a card I wrote just for you…

Example Christmas Card

Did you find this post helpful? If so, share the love by sharing with your social networks. Let’s spread as much love as we can at this time of year, humanity is in dire need of it right now!

How To Be More Authentic In Your Writing

How To Be More Authentic In Your Writing

Let’s be honest. Writing doesn’t come easy to most of us. It can almost feel like a chore, a time-consuming task that takes you away from the things that you believe will boost your business.

The unavoidable truth is the way you write and share your message is crucial to the success of your business or even for you personally as an employee. Being an effective communicator, both in the written and spoken word, is an invaluable skill.

Sure, you could hire a content or copywriter to write engaging and persuasive content to level up your business marketing (if that’s you, let’s chat). But if you’re not running your own business or you don’t have the funds to pay an expert writer, this simply isn’t an option.

I often get asked how I write in my authentic voice.

I’ll let you in on a secret – I have no idea! Finding my voice as a writer didn’t come overnight. It took taking up a regular writing habit to uncover an effective flow that works for me. It took developing opinions on topics and issues that matter to me to unearth the voice within.

Writing in your voice, whether it’s an email, your LinkedIn profile or your website ‘About’ page, is about authenticity. To be authentic is to be genuine, original, real, credible. Authenticity builds trust. And if you want to build some level of a relationship with your reader (as a customer, colleague or contact), trust is key.

So, grab your notebook (or for the digitally-inclined, your phone) and write down these tips. You don’t want to miss this!

How to be more authentic_blog graphic for Pinterest

 

So, how can you be more authentic in your writing?

 

Write what you know

This is a tip I’m almost certain you’ve heard before and one to hold on to.

As a reader, you can tell when you’re reading an article, blog or book that lacks authenticity because the author hasn’t lived out the topic they’re writing about. It can be tempting to want to write about all the irresistibly attractive topics that people are itching to know more about at the time.

Resist the temptation to be purely driven by likes, shares and views. Instead, write as though you’re writing for that one person who needs to hear from your personal experience to forge their path in your area of expertise. This authenticity will pay off in the long run!

 

Write the way you speak 

Now, this is one that I’ll admit I didn’t always put into practice when writing. Especially when it came to writing for work, confined by the traditional delivery methods of a professional services firm. Though I would have stumbled over the words if I attempted to read a highly technical report aloud, it did mean that I mastered the art of business writing. You win some, you lose some, right?

Business writing aside, think of the last website you visited or the last book you read. Was it easy to read? If so, you could probably imagine the author in front of you saying those same words as though you were carrying out a conversation.

That’s precisely what it is, conversational writing. Not only is this writing style a heck of a lot easier to read, it also creates the belief that the words are genuinely from you.

The next time you write anything (I mean ANYTHING), read it back aloud to yourself. How does it sound? If it sounds natural, you’re good to go!

 

Write to tell your story

We’ve all got a story to tell. No one can share your story the way you can.

Sharing your story requires a level of vulnerability that can’t be achieved by any other piece of writing. It’s also a good way to get you in the habit of writing as yourself and no one else. By documenting your life experiences (the good and the bad) and what you’ve learned along the way, you’ll find that you discover your true, authentic, writing voice.

Also, it doesn’t hurt that everyone loves a good story! Use storytelling to hook your readers in and you’ll leave them wanting to read more of your stuff.

If you need pointers on how to tell your story, check out this article on 7 Simple Ways to Tell a Compelling Story.

How to be more authentic_Summary Infographic for social sharing

Try these writing strategies the next time you write an email or a social media caption and let me know:

  • Do you feel like you’re being more authentic?
  • How was it received?

Leave your feedback in a comment and if you enjoyed this post, please share the love by sharing with others!

How To Write Professional Emails

How To Write Professional Emails

If you’ve been working in any type of office environment or have been a business owner for any number of years, it’s likely that you’ve sent thousands of work emails or business emails in your lifetime.

In fact, some say that the average worker sends around 40 emails per day! In my opinion, that’s overkill but certainly not unbelievable. In an effort to CYA (you can look up the acronym) and keep a paper trail in this sue-or-be-sued world, emails have become a necessary evil in the average work day. So we may as well get our work email etiquette right.

After sending and receiving countless emails as a consultant in professional services (where CYA is crucial to survival!), I can confidently say I’m now well versed in writing professional work emails. Now, I don’t fall for the “knowledge is power” mantra, so I’m going to share my knowledge with you today and save us all the pain of receiving emails that make us what to hit “delete” before even reading the second line!

From my experience, I’ve encountered five no no’s that people (including myself) make in writing professional emails at work and learned some effective strategies to keep your email etiquette on point:

#1: Not including a greeting

Or worse yet, including a greeting and leaving off the receiver’s name!

I’ve received business emails from people opening with a “Hi” and then they get straight to business. You know I have a name, right? It’s even in my email address if you need a clue! I’ll admit, it creates a degree of distance in my language in future emails to that person.

Try this instead:

Open the email with both a greeting and the name of the person receiving the email. Including the recipient’s name personalises the email and makes them feel like they’re being seen. They’re also more likely to give you a favourable response.

I get that there are times where email correspondence with a colleague continues to the point where it resembles a text message trail. No judgement at all. At least make the effort to include a greeting and name in the first email and the subsequent 1-2 replies. It only takes an extra 2 seconds, you can do it.

#2: Beginning the email with “Hey guys” or “Hey girls”

This may fly in a less corporate work environment but please, before you write a work email with this greeting, consider your audience.

Maybe there is one male among 10 females receiving the email. In that case, “hey girls” may not be so appropriate. Trust me, I’ve seen this done before, multiple times! Or perhaps the 50 year old mother of adult children on the other end of your email doesn’t appreciate being called a “girl” when in fact, she’s a grown woman.

Try this instead:

Use a collective gender-neutral greeting. If you’re sending the email to 3 or less people, include each of their emails, make them feel valued. If you’re sending to more than 3 people, here are some other greeting options:

  • “Hi team”
  • “Hi all”
  • “Hi everyone”
  • “Good morning/afternoon/evening”

You could even open with a creative or witty greeting to catch their attention, if you’re that way inclined.

 

#3: Writing “URGENT” in the subject line

There’s nothing that deters me more from opening a work email than when I see the word “urgent” in all upper case letters. Call it cheeky, but my immediate inclination is to make them sweat and keep the person waiting just a little bit longer before they receive a response from me.

Including “urgent” in the subject line sends the message that your needs take priority over that of the person on the other end of your email. That’s not likely to go over well.

Try this instead:

If the person you’re emailing is a mere few feet away, get up and walk over to speak to them in person. You can easily convey the urgency of the matter through conversation. Plus, the chances of them actioning your request are higher if you personally deliver that request.

Give them a call if walking over to their desk is not an option. Similar to speaking in person, this is likely to get you better results than an email subject line beginning with “urgent”.

If the above two approaches are not an option for you, then try marking the email as urgent using the email tools available rather than actually writing the word itself. This indicates the urgency of the matter within the email, without you having to explicitly say it.

#4: Sending a detailed email without subheadings or not enough line spacing

My body temperature is rising and an overwhelming feeling washed over me just thinking about it! Chances are, the person on the other end of your email also feels this way. If you want your business email to actually be read…

Try this instead:

Any designer would agree with me in saying that white space is your friend. So are bold (or underlined) sub-headings! Setting out an email packed with information in sections makes it easier for the reader to digest it bit by bit. Insert a line space between each key point and you’ve got yourself an email that is (almost) guaranteed to be read.

Think of your email as a pizza. Who would want to tackle an entire pizza as a single chunk of flat bread? I sure wouldn’t! But when I see that delicious, cheesy, carbohydrate-rich goodness (before my dairy & gluten free life) cut up in easy to bite slices, I’m ready to eat it all down to the very last bite.

You know what would make your email even better than sub-headings and line spacing? Shortening it. Before sending, read over the email. Or better yet, ask a colleague to proofread it. Are there any sentences which don’t add value? Maybe what is currently an entire paragraph could be said in one sentence. Trust me, the other person will thank you for it.

And, if you’re sending a company-wide email and feel a little intimidated by the task in front of you, not to worry. Send me a note so we can chat about how I can help you write that all important professional email.

#5: Treating your email correspondence like text messages

Contrary to the belief that using shortened words and slang equals “staying relevant”, work emails are not the place for them. No matter how much actual substance your email contains, using words like “ur” or “brb” can devalue your message as it comes across as unprofessional.

Try this instead:

To write professional emails properly, use complete words, words that one will find in the Oxford Dictionary. This is especially important when emailing clients! Keep the shortened words and slang to text messages with friends and instant messaging with colleagues.

There you have it. With your now heightened awareness of these 5 “no no’s” and ways to avoid them, your work emails are sure to be more tolerable in the future! If you’ve skipped the content and scrolled to the bottom of the page for a summary – hello, your summary awaits below (you can Pin it for later):

Infographic summarising blog post

Have you found yourself doing any of these 5 things when writing emails? Maybe you think I’m being pedantic. Let me know by leaving a comment.

Don’t forget to share with your social networks too!