Wednesday 30 December 2015 12:47 pm

One simple tool to help you write more authoritative emails and stop apologising


I'm City A.M.'s award-winning technology editor, covering everything from happenings at Apple and Google to the latest London startup. In particular fintech, blockchain, artifical intelligence, driverless cars, virtual reality and the sharing economy get me out of bed in the morning. I'm always trying to illustrate stories with pictures of dogs. Sometimes with some success. I was named technology journalist of the year at the UK Tech Awards.

I'm City A.M.'s award-winning technology editor, covering everything from happenings at Apple and Google to the latest London startup. In particular fintech, blockchain, artifical intelligence, driverless cars, virtual reality and the sharing economy get me out of bed in the morning. I'm always trying to illustrate stories with pictures of dogs. Sometimes with some success. I was named technology journalist of the year at the UK Tech Awards.

Follow Lynsey Barber

Email etiquette is a thorny issue. One person's swift reply may be impolite to another while jokes can be taken in the wrong way. Getting across the right message can be a tricky task and there's one thing you might be doing that's not giving off the right impression – apologising.

It's not just the saying sorry outright, but the words we use that convey a lack of confidence – the "just" here and the "I think" there – that may be undermining the message your sending out. 

Now, there's a handy tool to check if you're sounding too passive in your emails, designed to help you sound stronger and more authoritative.

The Chrome plugin Just Not Sorry checks over your emails as you compose them, highlighting the words and phrases that might be undermining your message. It also points out why, helping you learn how to compose more effective emails in the long run.

The brainchild of entrepreneur Tami Reiss, the idea came at a meetup of entrepreneurial women. "We had all inadvertently fallen prey to a cultural communication pattern that undermined our ideas. As entrepreneurial women, we run businesses and lead teams — why aren’t we writing with the confidence of their positions?" she said in a post on Medium.

When someone uses one of these qualifiers, it minimises others confidence in their ideas. Whether you’re persuading an investor to provide funding, announcing a change in direction to your colleagues, or promoting your services to a client, you are building their confidence in you.

Qualifiers hint to the reader that you don’t have faith in what you’re saying. The last thing you need is to seem unsure of yourself. We want to make it easy to kick the habit by making it obvious when these qualifiers are holding us back.

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