Communicating effectively over email can be a challenging task. It’s important to use a confident tone in your communications with others so you can maintain professionalism and assert your competency. If you currently struggle with a lack of confidence or have the tendency to over-apologize, it may be helpful for you to review a few alternative phrases you can use instead of saying sorry in your emails.
In this article, we discuss why it’s important to be confident, list seven things to say instead of sorry in an email and offer tips for deciding what to say in an email.
Why is it important to be confident in an email?
When emailing, it’s important to maintain a confident tone so that others can more easily perceive your professionalism and recognize your competency. Lacking confidence may offer others the opportunity to dismiss your perspective, doubt your skills or question your abilities, which can impede your progress in your role and hinder your overall career growth. Therefore, projecting confidence when communicating with others can help you ensure you succeed in your duties and accomplish the goals you set out for yourself.
There are various ways in which professionals accidentally express insecurity in their communications, and paying attention to these items in your own emails can help you maintain your confidence more effectively. For instance, some professionals have the tendency to over-apologize when communicating with others. While apologizing may show consideration for others, saying sorry is sometimes unnecessary—especially in situations when you don’t actually mean it—and may imply a lack of confidence. You can overcome such challenges by shifting your perspective, maintaining self-assurance and using alternative phrasing in your communications.
What to say instead of sorry in an email
There are various strategies you can use to overcome the tendency to over-apologize in your email communications. Depending on the situation, you may be able to replace your apologies with language that more accurately describes your thoughts while maintaining assertiveness and driving your workflow forward. This would allow you to bring the conversation forward to a positive outside, instead of dwelling on an issue.
Here are seven different things you can say instead of sorry in an email, including descriptions of situations in which these phrases may be appropriate and examples:
1. I understand
It’s common for professionals to offer an apology when expressing their condolences or sympathy for another person’s situation. Instead of saying sorry in these instances, try to offer validation and understanding to create a more meaningful exchange.
Example: I understand that the past few weeks have been a stressful time for you. How can we work together to make sure you get enough rest while meeting our deadline?
2. Thank you
Rather than saying sorry when you want to show your consideration to others, try to express your gratitude. You can offer your thanks to others to preempt their response to inconveniences and take ownership of your actions.
Example: Thank you so much for your patience while I finalize all the details in this report. I plan to send it over to you by the end of the week.
When inconvenient circumstances are out of your control, you may feel the impulse to apologize even though you aren’t to blame. Instead of apologizing in these situations, phrase your response to simply acknowledge the unfortunate nature of the circumstances.
Example: Unfortunately, I’m not available to offer my services that week, as I’m working with another client. Can we talk soon to find another time that works for you?
4. I hope
When you make a mistake at work or feel the need to compensate for your actions, you can overcome the desire to express your regret by instead expressing your intentions. Even more, you can propose solutions to maintain productivity and help move the situation forward.
Example: I hope we can overcome this obstacle and meet the deadline we previously set. Do you have time to strategize this afternoon?
5. I get what you mean
If you experience conflict or a difference of perspective at work, you may feel the need to apologize, but this isn’t usually necessary. Instead of saying sorry in these situations, recognize others’ viewpoints while maintaining yours to reinforce the notion that more than one opinion can be valid.
Example: I get what you mean, and that’s an interesting perspective. I’ll think about it differently.
6. I plan to make this right
You may find it challenging to navigate situations in which you encounter an obstacle or make a mistake at work. Rather than apologizing in these instances, try to act accountable by communicating your ideas, formulating a clear plan and sharing your goals. Proposing a solution is more powerful than an apology.
Example: I understand your frustrations with the tardiness of my report, and I want you to know that I plan to make this right. I can submit a final draft to you by this evening and make sure future reports are on time. Does that work for you?
7. Can you give me some feedback?
If you feel the need to apologize for your actions or performance at work, it can sometimes be more effective to solicit constructive feedback. You can use this feedback to grow from a situation and become more successful in your role in the future. If you agree with their feedback and take action on it, bring it back later to show appreciation to them.
Example: I’ve been wondering about my performance and I appreciate your mentioning it. Can you give me some constructive feedback that I can consider and implement in my work?
8. Give a heads up
If you expect something to go wrong, such as a delay on a given task, informing someone ahead of time can help you to avoid a future apology email. It shows you care about their request.
Example: I’d like to give you a heads-up ahead of our meeting tomorrow. The file you expect won’t be ready for our call, but I hope to have the final version delivered by the end of the week, within the required deadline.
Tips for deciding what to say in an email
It can be challenging to decide what to say in an email, especially if you struggle with your self-assurance as a professional. Despite this, there are a few essential actions you can take to reframe your perspective and learn how to communicate confidently in your role. Here are a few helpful tips to consider when writing emails:
Be mindful of your tendency to over-apologize.
Maintain confidence and self-assurance.
Capture the true meaning of your words.
Have a solution-oriented mindset.
Validate your perspective while accommodating others.
Take ownership of your ideas.
I hope you find this article helpful.