Words are powerful things. 

1. Just

This is a really common one!


Example: “Just checking in to see if you received my email…”


Why doesn’t it work: The word ‘just’ minimises whatever follows. It sounds like whatever we’re emailing about needs to be apologised for or that the item should not be prioritised.


Use this instead: “I am checking in to see if you received my email.”

2. Sorry

Example: “Sorry, I can’t do Wednesday at 2pm but would 3:30pm work?”


Why it doesn’t work: Of course, we should always apologise when we make a mistake. The problem comes from saying sorry for something that doesn’t warrant an apology. We should be able to ask for what we need without apologising first.


Use this instead: “I’m unavailable on Wednesday at 2pm. Are you available at 3:30pm?”

3. Try

Example: “I’ll try to get it across to you by next week”


Why it doesn’t work: Saying “I’ll try” suggests that we doubt our own ability to do something. We are saying that we might not be able to deliver on what we’ve said.


Use this instead: “Tomorrow won’t work but I will get it across to you by the end of next week.”

4. I feel like

Example: “I feel like we should cancel our Monday morning meetings”


Why it doesn’t work: Using the phrase “I feel like” is a way of deflecting and makes it difficult to have a productive conversation.


Use this instead: “We should cancel our Monday morning meetings”

5. Actually

Example: “Your work was actually good.”


Why it doesn’t work: The word “actually” isn’t important. It is extra information that makes the listener curious as to why they used it. It can sound insulting or like you know better.


Use this instead: “Your work was good.”