Common sense dictates that not using profanity and terms that may be seen as possibly offensive is wise. Even more so in today’s online environment. You have to be extremely careful that you do not use terms that may be misconstrued by someone, somewhere, out there.
It may even be someone you don’t know who may get a copy of your message, or see a comment that your wrote on another platform. When it comes to business, and using your business email address, you just cannot be too careful. This means that every little bit or byte that you type could reflect on your business (or career). Maybe not now, but as we’ve seen as of late, things you type could be referred to decades from now.
While most feel free to post what they like on their personal accounts, that line has been blurred. But when it comes to using your business email address nothing less than being extremely professional will do. As I’ve noted on this site before, if you wouldn’t type it on business letterhead, don’t type it in an email — or on any other online platform.
Not only do we have to be wary of using certain terms, we also have to be extremely careful of how we voice any sort of opinion or point of view. So what do we do?
Grow Your Vocabulary
Profanity is a sign of inadequate vocabulary or unsound judgment — or both.
Mark Twain once observed that “the difference between the right word and the almost-right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” It is never appropriate to use profanity, especially among people you do not know well. Instead, build your vocabulary by reading and studying so that you can express yourself simply and eloquently. When you expand the number of words you know, you also expand your mind, because understanding the words and their meanings necessitates understanding the concepts behind them.
~ Napoleon Hill
Consider the overall intent of the above quote. Of course you shouldn’t swear in business emails. However, swearing is even subjective now-a-days. A term or phrase that was benign in the past can send some folks into a tizzy.
Work on expanding your vocabulary. Use the words that express your intent or tone instead of jumping for the bold button or adding multiple explanation points or question marks. When it comes to your business email, you need to choose words over formatting every time.
What about the terms or phrases that may end up causing more trouble than the message you intended to communicate? You know what they are so don’t take any chances. There is an endless supply of words at your disposal to clearly type exactly, specifically, what you are trying to relay.
Hone Your Writing Skills
I write quite a bit and always have a dictionary or thesaurus nearby or open in a browser window to assist me. Learn a new “Word of the Day” by subscribing to Merriam Webster’s Free Word of the Day Service. You’ll receive in new word in your inbox to learn each day.
If you think about it, Email Etiquette is basically just courtesy combined with the skill to communicate with the written word. Build your arsenal (vocabulary) and take the necessary time to choose your words carefully so you can “express yourself simply and eloquently.”
By doing so you’ll find that you are rarely misunderstood and highly regarded as a proficient communicator. And best of all you avoid misunderstandings or the wrong interpretation of what you meant.
Profanity is the effort of a feeble brain to express itself forcibly.
― Spencer W. Kimball