How to Sound Confident in Emails
As a freelancer, your ability to communicate confidently via email can be essential for landing a new job or client. You also need this skill to work effectively with your existing clients.
To help you sound confident and professional, we’ve compiled some dos and don’ts for writing emails. Read on to discover how you can achieve a confident tone in your emails.
Don’t Use Hedging or Filler Words
Hedging is a type of language that’s overly tentative, vague, and avoids commitment. Common hedging words include:
- I think
- I suppose
- I assume
Filler words are words and phrases that don’t contribute any meaning and are used to fill in space. Some examples of filler words and phrases are:
- It goes without saying
- You know
Using tentative language (hedging) and filler words in a professional email can make you seem unsure of yourself and the message you’re trying to convey, undermining your authority in a professional setting. Compare the following two sentences:
I think I might be available tomorrow. How does a call around 12 or a bit later sound?
I will be available tomorrow. I can call you at 12:30.
While the first sentence is vague and indirect, the second states its message without using hedging or filler words, conveying a more confident tone. This is a much more appropriate tone for a professional email that makes your meaning clear when communicating with clients.
Don’t Over Apologize
It’s important to be polite when communicating with clients and colleagues. However, apologizing too much can damage your professional reputation, as it positions you as being at fault. Apologizing too much can even reduce your confidence in yourself and your work.
If you find that your writing contains a lot of apologies, try cutting them out wherever possible. One way you can do this is by rephrasing the apologies you make. For example, try replacing “sorry” with “thank you”:
Sorry to keep you waiting. ✘
Thanks for your patience with this. ✔
Sorry for the mistake. ✘
Thank you for catching that. ✔
Avoiding over apologizing in this way will help you sound confident while remaining professionally polite.
Do Keep Language Simple and to the Point
Just like hedging can undermine your authority in an email, excessive wordiness can appear confusing and undisciplined. The passive voice, in particular, can extend sentences beyond their necessary length and suggest that you lack knowledge or experience in what you’re talking about. Take the following example:
The document was found to possess several errors relating to grammatical rules, in addition to a potential issue with regard to the formatting.
This is a very complex way to explain something relatively simple. We could word it more clearly with the active voice:
I found several grammatical mistakes in the document and a possible formatting issue.
This sentence is much more direct and conveys a confident tone as a result.
Don’t Use Too Many Exclamation Points
There’s nothing better than an exclamation point to convey enthusiasm. But while they can be useful for indicating tone, too many exclamation points in an email can come across as unprofessional, informal, and eager to please. For example:
Thanks for getting in touch! I’ve had a look at your manuscript! I would really like to work on this project with you!!
Instead of overusing exclamation points, try and save them for when they’re necessary. This might be to express appreciation, surprise, or excitement. For example:
The team were all impressed with how well you handled the project. Well done!
Finally, if you think an exclamation point could undermine your confident tone, simply avoid using it altogether.
Do Know the Difference Between Confidence and Arrogance
Finally, it’s important to know where to draw the line between confidence and arrogance. You don’t want to risk sounding rude or overpromising on something you can’t deliver. For example, here’s a sentence from a professional email that isn’t confident enough:
I’m not sure if that’s the correct term in this scenario. Sorry if you think it’s appropriate though!
Now, here’s what a more confident version of that sentence might look like:
That probably isn’t the correct word to use here, so I’ve removed it.
But this next version takes things a step too far:
Obviously, you shouldn’t be using that word. It’s a good thing you asked me for help.
Remember, there’s a difference between sounding confident in yourself and your abilities and being full of yourself.
Becoming A Proofreader or Editor
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