Do you struggle when you have to write professional emails in English? Here are 5 tips to write convincing emails.
When we write in English at work, we want to send positive and respectful messages.
But most of the time, writing is hectic.
In our fast-paced, technical business environment, email writing can be machine-like.
We often feel like we are behind. Sometimes, writing with care seems less important than achieving inbox zero.
Still, how can you write professional emails that are convincing and positive?
Here are five of my best tips you can use to improve your professional emails in English.
⨯ I’m sorry for my late reply.
✔ Thank you for your patience.
The word ‘sorry’ is rarely necessary. Don’t over-apologize in your emails.
If you focus on the positive, your communication will be more positive.
Even when you make mistakes, focus on the good (i.e. the other person’s help) instead of repeating what you have done wrong.
Of course, you need to apologize if you made a serious mistake. If the mistake is not serious, it is better to focus on the positive.
In addition, you will sound more confident.
Avoid sentences like these: “I’m sorry that you had to help me with the assignment.”
Instead, try writing: “Many thanks for doing me a favor.”
When you made a small error, try one of these sentences to thank the other person:
- Thank you for bringing this to my attention. I will …
- I’m glad you informed me about this mistake. I have already updated the file.
- Thank you for noticing the error. I will make the updates/changes.
- Many thanks for letting me know. I have corrected the document attached.
⨯ The delay in the shipment was due to the fact that all of the parts needed to be altered.
✔ The shipment was delayed because all parts were changed.
Your emails should be short and simple.
Avoid long, complicated sentences. They bring more work for your reader.
If you need to write a long, complicated email, it is often more effective to talk in person. Try calling or meeting the other person instead.
Use plain English in your emails:
- assistance → help
- numerous → many
- remainder → rest
- attempt → try
Both you and the other person are likely busy, so shorter communication will save both of you time.
Moreover, short phrases and sentences not only save you time. They often make your email more persuasive, too.
⨯ Hi John,
Can you send me the report today?
✔ Hello John,
I hope you had a nice weekend.
Could you send me the report today?
Thank you for your collaboration.
Emails are often impersonal compared to phone calls or personal meetings.
Try to sound friendly and warm when writing in English, especially at the beginning and end of your message.
You can add nice sentences and phrases to your emails to build better relationships.
Start your email with a friendly note:
- I hope you enjoyed your…
- It was great to see you yesterday.
- It was a pleasure to see you last week.
- Thank you for the good news.
End your email in a friendly tone:
- I hope we can collaborate at some other time in the future.
- Enjoy the Easter break!
- I look forward to seeing you next Thursday.
- Have a nice holiday!
⨯ I think that we probably just need a better strategy.
✔ I suggest the following strategy…
In their popular business book Rework, Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson write:
“There are four-letter words you should never use in business. They’re not fuck or shit. They’re need, must, can’t, easy, just, only and fast. These words get in the way of healthy communication.”
It is better to avoid vague words, such as probably or maybe.
Common fillers in English include:
- I think
- I believe
- There is/are…
These words are distractions from your main message. Avoid these words in your emails when possible.
⨯ We are sorry you are experiencing this problem. We have never received this complaint before.
✔ Thank you for letting me know. I appreciate your patience and understanding.
Negative language suggests that there is a problem. You can also come across as cold.
Instead, positive words invite positive feelings.
We often use words and phrases without knowing that they give a negative impression:
- problem (even if you say “no problem”)
Use positive expressions instead:
- I am always happy to help!
- Thank you for letting me know.
- Thanks for your patience!
- It is my pleasure to …
- We are delighted…
- looking forward to…
⨯ urgent question
✔ Question regarding the marketing campaign schedule
The subject of your email should neither be too long nor too short.
Above all, the subject line should be descriptive.
Instead of writing “urgent question,” describe the question a bit more.
Describe the email’s content and attachments in a short sentence.
A descriptive email subject has another benefit: it will be easier to be searched when you or the receiver look for it later.
This helps everyone stay more organized.
We all write emails at work. It can be stressful to write persuasive and respectful messages while you are under time pressure.
Try these recommendations in your English emails:
- Instead of apologizing, try thanking the reader.
- Keep your emails short and simple by using short, persuasive words.
- Be friendly with your language.
- Delete any vague words or fillers in your email.
- Avoid negative words and phrases.
- Choose a descriptive subject to make it easier for everyone to handle the message.