Forbidden Words: Email No-nos

Karen DoughertyBusiness Insider recently featured this post: “3 Common Words that Make You Sound Rude in Emails.” The terrible trio?

  • Actually—makes you sound like an arrogant know-it-all
  • Sorry—overused and possibly insincere
  • Me—may indicate that you’re self-centered.

The post, which offers pertinent examples and plausible alternatives for each transgression, is worth a look.

Clearly, the folks at Business Insider are playing in a different league than mine. Let’s pretend that I’m writing an email to the president of my college, Dr. Jay Allen. Just for fun, I’m going to write it using a mash-up of horrors that have arrived in our office during the last two weeks:

hey there, Jay!!!

ive been trying to reach you 4 weeks but u r never in your office. i need to meet with u ASAP cuz i cant find my ppe or my contract and im not sure what im supposed 2 be doing so please call me back right away.  i need to see you TODAY! or u can just call me back now


email_devilI will not be hitting “send” on that one. But what can we do about students who send us goodies like this? And should we even bother?

Yes, we definitely should call our students’ hands on this. We should insist on something better not because we are Dr.-High-and-Mighty-Deserving-of-Respect, but because these students will someday want to find and keep jobs. Writing to us, their “bosses” for now, is practice for what lies ahead in their careers.

Our college has decided to focus on soft skills, and that focus may include every encounter with our students, including the first. Your personal style and your relationship with the individual student will direct the way that you approach the matter, but approach it you should.

We’d love to hear your suggestions and strategies.


5 comments on “Forbidden Words: Email No-nos

  1. Julia Laffoon-Jackson says:

    Thank you for giving me a great laugh today, Karen.

  2. allishalee says:

    This was excellent! I was going to say, “This was awesome!” like I usually do but opted to use a more professional word. ☺

  3. I’m glad I could provide a chuckle. I was just “double-dog-dared” in an email to send the message to Dr. Allen. Nope, nope, nope.

  4. myevette2000 says:

    This little advice comes at a good time for me. I am talking to some students soon about how to write a formal email to a professor. I will also address some ideas about communication in the work place.

  5. Brian Leslie Coatney says:

    Great post!

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