Quit Saying Sorry: Power Phrases For Email To Take You Far


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In all aspects of life, confidence is key; but in business, confidence is oh, so verrrrry necessary.

The most successful people exude confidence throughout their daily life and work – through emails, slack messages, presentations, and conversations. If you’re looking for ways to infuse confidence into your professional persona, day-to-day communication is a great place to start.

Everything you say and do – especially over email – paints a comprehensive picture of who you are. Combined with your face-to-face interactions, virtual communication adds to your professional profile in a permanent way, which is why we like to highlight the importance of using good email practices.

One way to practice confidence is to always choose power phrases. In other words, terminology that’s established and strong rather than passive or, dare I say, apprehensive.

The idea behind power-phrasing is to subtly communicate to people that, no matter your job title, you have power. You want to demonstrate that your time and work are valuable. Research shows that this type of “fake it ‘til you make it” mentality can actually lead to greater success in business, so why not give it a try? There are a few simple ways to incorporate power-phrasing into your everyday work routine. Take a look at our suggestions on how to transform your email game and boost your communication skills through confidence!

“Thank you for your patience”

We all make mistakes! The way you react to moments of personal error says a lot about who you are and how you handle life’s obstacles. Nobody wants to work with a domineering know-it-all who doesn’t take responsibility, but they also won’t respect the person who is constantly saying sorry.

Our advice would be to swap out “I’m sorry” with a phrase like “Thank you for your patience”. This type of language shows that you understand you’ve caused an inconvenience and that you appreciate your recipient’s acceptance.

In a way, saying “thank you for your patience” saves the recipient the time and effort of having to come up with a response and forgive you. Instead of using the words “I’m sorry” and making them go through the motions, you’re implicitly telling your coworker, client, or colleague that you’re sorry and that you assume that they accept it unless they would like to say otherwise.

If you’re a particularly overloaded person and you are often late getting back to people, you can rotate through a handful of appropriate phrases. Keep reading for more ways to knock out the apologies and work on power-phrasing alternatives.

“I appreciate your flexibility”

So you’re running late on a deadline and you need to ask for an extension; maybe you’re looking to reschedule a meeting or you’ve already pushed a few times now. Rather than apologizing for your busy schedule, thank your recipient for their ability to work with you. Using the power phrase “I appreciate your flexibility” is a way of showing appreciation for leniency while simultaneously pushing to get what you want.

The idea behind most of these power phrases is to tell, not ask. “I appreciate your flexibility” is a great way to balance appreciation and assertiveness while remaining respectful. Use this phrase in place of any other type of I’m sorry, too.

Keep in mind that using assertive phrases does not mean that you get to make all of the decisions. Just as you are appreciative of their flexibility, occasionally you may get pushback and will need to be flexible yourself.

“Thank you for your understanding”

Ending an email with “OK thank you” might not always be the best way to close things out. Another excellent way to incorporate power-phrasing is using the phrase, “Thank you for your understanding.” Use this small but powerful sentence to close out emails with information that’s hard to swallow. You can also use this as a method of instilling some humanity into your recipient if you’re asking for a favor.

Scared to ask for a few days off to deal with a family issue? Maybe you are planning a vacation during a historically busy week for the company. Closing out an email with “thank you for understanding” or “thank you for working with me on this” is a great way to show gratitude and lessen the blow of whatever you’re trying to say. Plus, it’s a nice way to recognize the hard work and empathy of others.

Your email etiquette says a lot about who you are as a coworker, a colleague, or maybe even a boss. It’s important to create a healthy balance between assertiveness and understanding, which can be difficult to achieve.

One easy way to up your email game is to look at the connotations that come along with different common phrases. The more you say “I’m sorry,” the more you come off as an unreliable resource. Rather than highlight your shortfalls, bring attention to your strengths. Recognize others for their ability to be patient, understanding, and flexible, and use those compliments to your advantage. If you can be picky with your language, you’ll find that greater respect and cooperation will follow.

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