Take a look at the last 10 emails you sent. See any phrases like “I’m not an expert, but…” or “sorry for the delay,” “IMHO” (in my humble opinion), or “I hope this makes sense?”
If so, you’re undermining your own message. Whether you’re emailing a recruiter or hiring manager when searching for a new job, or communicating via email at work, these kinds of phrases tend to detract from the recipient’s confidence in you—and your own self-confidence.
Cyrus Innovation created a free Gmail plug-in for Chrome called JustNotSorry as part of its Female Founders Initiative. The app underlines words (similar to how spellcheck works) that could be interpreted as negative, self-deprecating, and apologetic. Originally developed with the target audience of 24-35 year-old professional women (women do tend to apologize more frequently), the company has actually seen equal use of its plug-in with young professional women and men.
We all have a tendency to want to soften a written message, towards kneejerk apologies when they aren’t necessary, or to use negative phrases that may lower the recipient’s expectations of our work. Removing these phrases can make you sound more confident in your work, or work experience in the case of job seekers, and help you move towards the “smart is simple” method of communication.
Brevity and clarity are the most important aspects in any method of communication, especially by email. You want the recipient to understand your message, make follow-up questions unnecessary, and for the actionable item to be clear. Padding your text with qualifiers or apologies detracts from all of the above and is a detriment to your professional career.
Sorry for the delayed response! I’m attaching the project outline that I completed this week for your review. I’m not an expert, but I feel like this is the best method to communicate our project goals to the company. I hope this makes sense!
Attached is the project outline that will communicate our department goals to the rest of the company. Please look it over and make any changes needed, then distribute to the company-wide email list. Thank you!
Want to give it a shot and see if you can improve your email communication? Download the Chrome plug-in at JustNotSorry.com. Let us know what you think!