There is an opinion that IT is a field free from business correspondence, where everyone wears hoodies and drinks filter coffee. A spoiler is not true, or rather, only partially true. IT usually does not have a huge number of documents and paper orders, but other moments have not disappeared: correspondence with customers, discussions of various issues within the team, work chats.
In this text, we will talk about some words and phrases that should be avoided in business correspondence. If, of course, you want to stay on good terms with all its members.
I did not know; I didn’t do it on purpose
With this phrase, a person removes any responsibility for what happened. Even if he didn’t really know – the situation has already happened and led to some unpleasant consequences, once he has to explain.
What can be replaced: It is best not to make excuses, but simply immediately try to fix the problem or offer solutions. In general, “do not make excuses, but do something” is universal advice in all cases except one: when you are directly asked to explain the reasons for the event.
As I wrote before\in my last letter; As I’m sure you already know
“What are you stupid, why do I have to repeat the same thing a bunch of times” – this is how this phrase sounds when translated from the office. In such phrases, the author often unwittingly (or consciously) adds a hidden accusation — as if he wants to expose the interlocutors for irresponsibility and poor work.
What can be replaced: If important information was raised somewhere before – tell people where to find it or briefly explain the essence: “We need to discuss all the edits from the client: a full list of them is in Asana” or “If the situation is short: we need to try to move the deadline a week ahead. How many man-hours are needed to make this possible?”.
Colleagues is an address that rarely portends something good, and it also smells like something from the 90s. In addition, it is impersonal and turns all participants in the correspondence into the same “Hey, you all” and many are annoyed by this. In general, it is better not to use this appeal and discuss nothing here.
What can be replaced: If you are addressing only part of the people in the chat, you can address them specifically: “Timur, Natasha and Tanya, please submit the design by tomorrow”, “Testers – start working.” If to everyone, then you don’t need to address “colleague” – you can just write something like “Hello everyone”.
I heard you
The most interesting phrase. It seems that there is nothing offensive or rude in it – it is simply a statement of the fact that the person heard the interlocutor. But it still sounds dry and unpleasant, as if the interlocutor did not understand what was said, but literally “heard”.
What can be replaced: You can replace it with almost any less banal synonym: “Okay, thank you”, “We have agreed”. Also try to paraphrase the task, conclusions and decisions in your own words: “Understood, I will show everything on August 26”, “Okay, we will involve two more React Native developers in this project in order to meet the deadline.”
Need to discuss; must be done
And other undefined phrases — they are addressed as if to everyone, and at the same time to no one. The sender simply shifts the responsibility for the information given to them to the recipients: because there is neither a specific task nor a specific executor. And something must be done.
What can be replaced: If you drop any task or even just information to someone or in a general chat, immediately indicate what to do with it. “Vika, here is an interesting article about Java – take a look and let’s discuss, maybe we can try it”, “I ask the developers of the project to take a look and write back about this document by tomorrow.”
Urgently, ASAP and other “adjusters” do not work. First, it is urgent for you, and for people it is just another task. Secondly, a person may simply not see a letter or message in time. So he opens the mail in the evening, and there is “TEEERMINOOOOVO” and it is not clear what to do with it: is it on fire, has it already burned or can it be done tomorrow?
What can be replaced: If the deadlines are really burning, explain to people why: “Guys, I understand that it is very sudden, but the client demands everything on Saturday and at least kill yourself. How do you think we can arrange this?” or “Masha, please drop all the data by 12 – we have a meeting about this project at one o’clock and we need to prepare in time.” In this way, the addressee of the message understands specific terms and it is easier for him to deal with his own schedule.
I was just joking (in an awkward or conflicted situation)
Even if you really were just joking and didn’t want to offend anyone. First, you expose everyone who didn’t get the joke as stupid hysterics. Secondly, you present yourself as a person who has little understanding of what he is actually doing.
What can be replaced: If you said something stupid, admit it and apologize. The sooner the better.
Look with one eye; here it is for five minutes; you are a professional
All these phrases are manipulations that put a person in an uncomfortable position. If you don’t look, it’s as if he rudely refused a trifle. Remember that usually “looking with one eye” requires a person to break away from his tasks, delve into something else, learn some details – therefore, it rarely happens quickly. According to such phrases, it can be read that a person wants to get what he wants.
What can be replaced: First, try as rarely as possible to ask your colleagues to do something that is not part of their duties. Second, give the person the opportunity to say “no” and refuse if it is not part of their direct work responsibilities. For example, like this: “If you don’t like it now, I’ll figure it out myself, don’t worry about it.”
Make a report; write updates; colleagues
“Hello everyone, make a project report for a pet store” in a chat for 15 people is a task without a specific addressee and a message to nowhere. People are often busy with their own tasks and rarely want to understand what and who is being asked to do in the general chat of the team. That is why such tasks often remain unfulfilled.
What can be replaced: Everything is simple here – if you ask something to be done not in person, but in a general chat – immediately tag a specific person or people responsible for performing this task: “Vadim, everything should be given to the testers tomorrow morning”, “Marina, check, to do it tomorrow.”
Sincerely…; Sincerely … and other excessive politeness
Excessive politeness in letters often comes across as bullying. Stamps and hackneyed phrases sound insincere, especially in a situation where you are simply trying to impose some more responsibilities on a person.
What can be replaced: For real courtesy and care for the addressee. Don’t forget to say hello, thank you, and add “please” to your requests.
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