Email is a powerful tool for reaching out to new business prospects. When communicating through an email, you should understand the functionality of the message you are sending. It is important to know that a formal email should be directed at initiating something thoughtful rather than starting out with words and presenting a message that is thoughtless.
A formal email should be effective and thoughtful enough to start or build a working relationship. Your choice of words can sound rich and evocative enough to get you the response you desire or can be tactless and empty enough to get you the silence or the response you detest. So here are the words that you need to avoid using in your next formal email.
1. “I am forwarding…” or “I have forwarded…”
Rather than using a variation on the word “forward,” just use “send” instead. In email, using a word like “forwarding” means that you are sending material from one person to another. Just be specific instead with the word “send.”
2. “Please note that…”
People tend to use these words politely and innocently, perhaps because they are simply trying to indicate something and want the reader to pay active attention. The truth is that this phrase is actually passive. Using a phrase like “be advised” shows that you are more assertive, proactive, and professional rather than priggish.
3. “Sincerely yours,”
“Sincerely yours,” “Very truly yours,” “Yours very truly,” — these words that sound so endearing could apply in the Victorian era, not now in the digital age. You don’t belong sincerely to anyone. Even when you know the person already, you don’t have to bring such familiarity to a formal email. Rather than use such outdated words, replace them with a formal word like “faithfully” or “regards” — yet, even this should be done with caution and according to the situation and relationship.
4. “I hope you are well.”
The word “hope” doesn’t have any place in a formal email. Are you trying to come across as a caring and concerned person? Or are you trying to force a working relationship by showing concern? Instead, show that you respect the recipient’s time and get to the point quickly.
This sounds negative, like you are respectfully declining a request or a decision. It adds a somber tone to your email and it doesn’t really soften the position or the content of your email.
I rarely see this word in formal emails. If you are still using this word, it is best you stop. It is old-fashioned and seemingly antiquated. It is better you use “please” rather than “kindly.”
7. “Please do not hesitate to contact me.”
“Hesitate,” when coined and used half a century ago, meant that you wanted to offer a lightened or a softer touch to your request. However, when the words became popular, it quickly became a cliche. By using a cliche in your email, you come across as unoriginal and disingenuous. Be personal with your words and use something like “please call me” or “send me an email,” which is still polite but doesn’t have a cliche attached to it.
8. “I thought I should reach out.”
People like to be indirect and express themselves in a soft tone or plea to get what they want. This phrase, which has suddenly become popular, sounds like a babyish approach at eliciting a response from the person you are sending your email to. This supposedly soft approach doesn’t make you sound direct or active. Be clear rather than being cloudy or vague with your words. Rather than say you are trying to reach out, just express the action you are asking the recipient to make. Being direct and clear could get you the reply you want.