Language - and its role in our communication - is central to everything we do. Essentially it dictates how successfully we move through the world; if we are able to articulate ourselves and get a point across in an effective way, then we are much more likely to achieve our desired outcome and objectives. Nowhere is this truer than in the work place.


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Of course one of our main forms of communication at work is through email, so it’s as important here as it is in speech to understand how the language you are using is being perceived. Sometimes, the simple insertion of a word like ‘just’ or ‘hopefully’ can seriously undermine your authority and credentials – not something you want in a professional setting.  

Here are some words that experts suggest you should drop from your emails to be taken more seriously at work, and to instantly appear smarter…

1. ‘Sorry’

This most sensitive of words is tremendously difficult for some people to say, and all too easy for others. A misplaced, unnecessary or overused apology can make you come across as either insincere or lacking in confidence – neither of which are particularly admirable qualities.

So instead of saying things like: “Sorry, can we reschedule the meeting?” or “Sorry, I meant to add” just do away with the apology and get straight to the point.

2.  ‘Hopefully’

This is another of those seemingly innocuous words that can undermine your communications, purely because it gives the impression that you’re not in control and are either leaving the outcomes of things to chance or in the hands of others. You should have a clearly defined role in your business and have a proper handle on your responsibilities, so lose the ‘hopefully’ and show you’re in control.

3. ‘Just’

“Can you just..?” is a phrase that will grate with even the most easy-going of employees, not least because whatever you’re asking will most likely be a lot involved than you’re implying – it’s usually the case that the longer pause between ‘just’ and the rest of the sentence, the bigger the job!

When used in an email ‘just’ is another of those words that can put a question mark your confidence, so drop it and address your interest more directly and assertively.

4. ‘I think’

This is a phrase that is probably used by most and is one that, on the face of things, comes across as confident and assertive – in reality, though, it’s just another way in which you could be undermining the confidence others have in you.

So instead of saying: ‘I think we should…’ cut it down to ‘We should…’ to convey the same idea with a greater level of confidence.

5. ‘Actually’

You know how annoying it is when people completely misuse ‘literally’? Well those who do the same with ‘actually’ are fast closing in on them – and more often than not, adding ‘actually’ literally adds nothing to the point you’re trying to convey.

And to make matters worse ‘actually’ is almost always used with at least one of the other words on our blacklist above, so we have things like: “Actually, can you just…” or, worst of all: “Actually, I think we should…”

Although this all seems a little trivial, making these small changes can make a big difference to the perception others have of you.

What email phrases really grind your gears? Or are there any more everyday words you’d like to see the back of? We'd love your opinion, so tweet us @OregaOffices!