It is estimated that in 2014, 191.4 billion emails were sent and received each day with about 108 billion of those being from the business sector. If you are a business owner, there’s a good chance that you’re a part of that ever-growing statistic. Emails are becoming one of the most common forms of communication between businesses and clients, so it makes sense that we brush up on our etiquette every so often.
With the knowledge that a few choice words could make or break your chances at making a potential connection or client, it’s safe to assume that just about everyone wants to avoid these costly word mistakes.
It literally is the worst. Literally. The. Worst. Nearly every single time this word is used, it’s used incorrectly. You are not literally going to die. You do not literally need that cup of coffee. You are not literally fuming right now. It’s not happening. Stop it. Stop!!! Literally, stop.
What to use instead: Nothing. The word isn’t necessary, especially when used incorrectly so frequently, so you should cut it out.
You know that Meatloaf song “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that”? That “but” takes things from romantic to downright rude, right? It’s usually the word that leads the way into bad news. Your reader is smarter than you think and this one word will mean they know what you’re about to say before you actually even say it.
What to use instead: Skip it entirely. You can get your point across without it. “I would love to go tomorrow, but I have a prior engagement” can easily be swapped out with “I would love to go tomorrow! Unfortunately, I have a prior engagement”. See? It sounds much more genuine and you’re still saying what you set out to.
3. “Utilize” and Other Corporate Terms
You want to make it sound like you know what you’re talking about and you want to impress people with all your business lingo. It makes sense, especially because most people are writing emails with hope to get something from someone else. But jargon will make your clients’ eyes glaze over.
In reality, it does more harm than good. People behind computer screens are still people, and they’re not going to be impressed that you know a few textbook definitions.
What to use instead: Talk about what you know. Use simple words and talk facts, numbers, and statistics to prove your point — not empty vocabulary words.
When is “quickly”, exactly? Can it be measured? Is it a length of time that the entire world has unanimously agreed upon? If the answer is “no” (which it is), then you should avoid using it altogether to avoid confusion.
What to use instead: Set a deadline and stick with it. Assess how long it will take you to get the job done and react accordingly. Instead of saying that you’ll have something done quickly, tell them that you’ll have it done on Wednesday at 2pm.
5. “Me” and “I”
You like talking about yourself. I like talking about myself. We’re self-centered creatures by nature. There’s a time and, actually a business-specific place to showcase your talents. But, if you’re sending an email out and pitching your product or business to someone, you have to make it about them, not yourself.
What to use instead: Flip your point of view around. instead of focusing on yourself and what you need from the recipient, focus on them and what you and your business can do to help their lives. Use words like “you” and “your” in place of “me” and “my”.
When someone emails you, they do so with a purpose. Either they want your advice, they want to share something with you, or they want some kind of feedback. One word answers like “Ok” and “Noted” don’t do the trick in helping the recipient of the email feel those warm and fuzzies.
What to use instead: You don’t have to write a paragraph in response to every email you receive, but a little courtesy goes a long way. Maybe consider swapping that “noted” or “okay” for a “thank you” or a “looks good!”, no?
7. “Hey” and “Hi”
You’re not talking to an old friend from school or a relative. You’re talking to a professional and you should react accordingly. Generic greetings like “hey” and “hi” give off the impression that you either don’t know who you’re talking to, or you don’t care.
What to use instead: Use a person’s name. Not only does it give your email a personalized touch, but it also starts things off on the right foot.
Andrew Wise is a serial entrepreneur whose sites generate $1+ million in revenue and receive 2.6+ million uniques per year. On his blog, Wise Startup Blog, he shares actionable advice on how you can build massive, passive income streams, designed for the complete newbie. Follow him on Twitter @WiseStartupBlog.