Emailing

Posts

Saying goodbye via email

Originally published on 10.02.2014

We need to say goodbye a lot. It sounds like a really easy thing to do, doesn’t it? But there are different situations in which we need to write emails for saying goodbye. Do you say the same thing to the colleague who is going on maternity leave as you do to the colleague who has just been made redundant? What about someone who is moving on to another department, or someone who has been promoted? Does how you say goodbye change according to how much you like the person? Each situation needs to be handled slightly differently and with an appropriate tone.

Email structure and phrases for saying goodbye

writing emails that people read

1.  Congratulate them (when appropriate)

  • Congratulations on…
  • Well done….
  • I hear congratulations are in order.

2.  Tell them you’ve enjoyed working with them / that you’re going to miss them

  • It’s been great / nice / a pleasure working with you.
  • We’re going to miss you around here.
  • The place won’t be the same without you.

3.  Say you hope it goes well for them

  • I’d like to wish you all the best for…
  • Good luck with…
  • I hope everything goes well with…

4.  Ask them to remain in contact

  • Keep /stay in touch.
  • You know where I am if you need anything.
  • Don’t be a stranger.

Examples of saying goodbye in business situations

Promotion

Hi John,

I just heard you got the Senior Analyst job in France. Congratulations on the new position. We’re going to miss you around here. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and wish you all the best for this new challenge. Keep in touch.

Kate

Moving to another department

Hi Luis,

I just heard you’re moving over to marketing. Well done. That sounds like an interesting move. Good luck and don’t be a stranger.

Kate

Leaving the company (not by their own choice)

Hi Rob,

I was really sorry to hear that you’ll be leaving us. It’s been great working with you and I’m certainly going to miss having you around. All the best for the future.

Take care,

Kate

Going on parental leave

Hi Lena,

It can’t be long now! I hope everything goes well for you. Send us a photo and see you when you’re back. We’re going to miss you. Enjoy your last few nights of quiet!

Lots of luck,

Kate

You can change your level of warmth by adding more information, adding words of emphasis (really, very), and by taking out some steps. By using the structure and phrases above, you can make saying goodbye less awkward. Want more help with emails or to improve your writing overall at work? Download our latest Ebook “Writing emails that people read.”

A 6 step guide to writing email apologies

Writing apologies requires tact and a careful choice of words. An apology that accepts too much blame can lead to problems in future business dealings with that client. Equally, an apology that doesn’t go far enough, or doesn’t sufficiently demonstrate your understanding of the mistake, can also lead to future problems with trust.

Before apologizing to a customer, ask yourself these questions

  • How much of the problem are you going to tell the customer?
  • Are you accepting responsibility? How much?
  • If it wasn’t your fault do you accept some responsibility anyway?
  • What is a reasonable compensation to offer for the problem? Might this set a precedent?
  • Is the problem one that is still ongoing? (And therefore can you promise it won’t happen again?)

writing emails that people read

Once you have answers in mind for these questions, how do you ago about phrasing and structuring your apology? The following acronym and phrases should help.

 

TAP CAP

 

Thank them for taking the time to contact you

  • Thank you for your recent email / call.
  • We appreciate you taking the time to write/ speak to us about….

 Apologize for the problem

  • We are extremely sorry for….
  • Please accept our apologies for…
  • Our sincerest apologies……

 Problem is briefly explained

  •  We were forced to…..
  • We regret that…..
  • This was a result of….
  • I’m afraid we were unable to…..

Compensation or a compromise is offered in some form

  • May we offer you….
  • We would like to offer you……
  • Would you like…..?             

Apology is repeated*

  • We apologize once again….
  • We assure you again that this problem has been resolved
  • We hope that this has not caused you any inconvenience….

*Don’t overdo it. Skip this stage if the problem is small.

Promise to keep standards as high as they were previously and reassure the customer

  • We will take steps to ensure that the high level of service you expect continues….
  • Thank you for your continued business during this time
  • We appreciate your understanding during this period

An example of using TAPCAP in an email

Dear Mr. Chambers,

(TA)

Thank you for your email dated April 15, 2008. We would like to formally apologize for any delays to your shipments which have occurred since the start-up of our new loading dock system in Barcelona.

(P)

Operational delays are occurring which are then being compounded by the roll-out of new delivery schedules. Customs has also had to adapt to the new situation which is currently set up only for part of the new system.

(C)

We ask you to excuse these delays. As part of attempts to help you during this period, we have asked that a hotline is set up to give you up-to-date information on any potential disruptions. If required, we will also provide an extra truck delivery per day at no further expense.

(AP)

We expect that from the upcoming week an interference free operational sequence will once again be in place. We apologize once again and promise to maintain the high level of performance you have come to expect from us in the future.

Yours sincerely,

Ms. Turner

 

Emails with effective subject lines

How many emails do you get a day? Too many, right? For good or bad, emailing surpassed telephoning as our primary method of communication in the workplace years ago. Yet today we still receive poor, confusing and ineffective emails – and worst of all we still write them too! If you want to improve the quality and impact of your emails, there’s no better place to start than at the beginning – start by writing an effective subject line.

The email subject line is where writing effective emails begins. It is often the first thing that your reader sees, and plays a key part in whether they open the email immediately, later or not at all. And it’s pretty simple to do. Here’s how …

writing emails that people read

 1) Write your subject line first

Too many of us either just hit reply, forward or even write nothing at all in the subject line. An email with a blank subject line isn’t going to get the attention it deserves, may go unread and will certainly be difficult to find later on. Obviously you’ve planned your email before you started writing, so write the subject line before you write your email.

2) Keep your subject line simple, clear and honest

An effective subject line should be simple to understand, clearly convey why you are writing, and accurately summarize the email’s contents. This helps your reader prioritize the email’s importance without having to open it. It also help you to build trust with your reader , as you’ll quickly be seen as somebody who is clear, open and reader-oriented.

3) Keep your subject line short, with key words at the beginning

A typical inbox reveals about 60-70 characters of an email’s subject line. That’s about the length of the last sentence. HOWEVER today more than 50% emails are ready on mobiles. This means you’ve got 20-30 characters to get it right. Place the most important words at the beginning!

4) Help your reader (and yourself) by using obvious keywords

Your reader, and perhaps you, manage the flood of emails via search functions, filters and folders. That’s why it’s important to include keywords related to the topic of the email that will make it searchable later.

5) Don’t cry wolf too often

Think carefully about how often you want to use words such as URGENT, NEED HELP, PRIORITY etc. If you use them too often in your subject lines, you should be prepared that when you really need to draw attention to your email, your reader won’t be interested.

6) Make sure you reread the subject line before you click send

Once again, check that your subject line accurately reflects what you wrote, that the key words are at the beginning and your subject line will be easily searchable.

A very short, practical exercise

  1. Open your inbox and look at received emails. Based on the simple guidelines above, how many of the emails in your inbox have effective subject lines?
  2. Now open your own sent mails folder. To what extent would you describe your own subject lines as effective? Can you anticipate the content of your own emails based on the subject lines you wrote? Give yourself a score out of 10.
  3. Now set up a reminder in your calendar to repeat step 2 in 14 days time.

Happy Birthday emails

What do you say when you wish a colleague a happy birthday?

In the modern business world, we have contact with a lot of people on a day-to-day basis. We all have one thing in common: birthdays! Wishing a colleague a happy birthday is a great opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. Regardless of the company or the culture, it is nice to be wished a happy birthday.

I am sure you have had that sinking feeling when you realize that you have missed someone’s birthday. As a manager, I feel that it is important to wish my colleagues (this includes people that report to me and people I report to) a happy birthday. If I didn’t do it, I would be concerned that people would be offended and my relationships would suffer.

It is easy to wish your friends a happy birthday but how do you do it professionally to colleagues?

We don’t tend to say “congratulations” to people on their birthdays. The only time we might say it is when someone turns 18 or 100!

 writing emails that people read

Some example emails you could use:

Formal

Dear Mr. Smith,

I am writing to wish you a happy birthday. I hope that you enjoy the day.

Many happy returns!

Kind regards,

Jonny

Informal

Hi Phil,

I just wanted to drop you a quick line to wish you a very happy birthday!

I hope you have a great day.

Take care,

Jonny

Belated (nachträglich)

Hi Phil,

I just wanted to wish you a happy belated birthday. I am sorry I didn’t contact you yesterday, I was on a business trip in Poland and didn’t have internet access or network on my phone.

Did you have a good day?

Let’s catch up soon,

Best wishes,

Jonny

 

Happy birthday to you

It makes people feel valued if you remember an important day in their lives. A simple wish as happy birthday strengthens relationships and can avoid potential offence. I have found it useful to keep a record of people’s birthdays on my Outlook calendar. That way, I don’t have to worry about forgetting.

Want to improve your emailing skills?

Our blog has a large number of posts that could be of interest to you. Click to view more posts on emailing.

20 phrases for closing an email

Originally published on 08.07.2013

A common problem

We often hear how writing emails in English can cost just too much time. One solution that works for many people is to begin building a “toolbox” of useful phrases.  A toolbox is a simple idea – you just start keeping a list of common and useful expressions – perhaps on your desktop or in a notebook next to your keyboard? There’s nothing wrong with reusing some standard phrases if it helps save you time and communicate clearly. You probably already have 2 or 3 sentences you reuse again and again. But sometimes the tone just isn’t right, is it?  To help you find the right words when you need them here are 20 great expressions for closing an email.  As you read through them ask yourself two simple questions:

1. When would I use this?

2. When will I use this?

Expressions for thanking                                                                                                     

  1. Thank you for your help. / time / assistance / support
  2. I really appreciate the help. / time / assistance / support you’ve given me.
  3. Thank you once more for your help in this matter.



Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download
Expressions with a future focus

  1. I look forward to hearing from you soon / meeting you next Tuesday.
  2. I look forward to seeing you soon.
  3. I’m looking forward to your reply.
  4. We hope that we may continue to rely on your valued custom.
  5. We look forward to a successful working relationship in the future.
  6. Please advise as necessary.
  7. I would appreciate your immediate attention to this matter.

Expressions for showing them you want to help

  1. If I can be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  2. If you require any further information, feel free to contact me.
  3. If you require any further information, let me know.
  4. Please feel free to contact me if you need any further information.
  5. Please let me know if you have any questions.
  6. I hope the above is useful to you.
  7. Should you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact me.
  8. Please contact me if there are any problems.
  9. Let me know if you need anything else
  10. Drop me a line if I can do anything else for you.

You can check out more ways to improve your writing at work here.  Don’t hesitate to comment below if you have any questions or additional phrases you’ve used that work.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Giving and asking for recommendations

Giving and asking for recommendations

Have you ever wanted to recommend a person, their services or even a good restaurant to someone else but didn’t know how to do it? Have you ever wanted someone to recommend you to others? Maybe you have a special skill that you’d like others to know about. You might have heard about a position, but need someone to recommend you in order to apply. Perhaps you just want to share some useful information with others and want them to know how much you liked it. All of these situations require us to give or ask for recommendations. Below you’ll find some examples of how to do this.
Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download hbspt.cta.load(455190, ‘aaa71860-e705-4a7e-b8e5-ab6e16849d2e’, {});

Asking for recommendations:

  • Could you put in a good word for me?
  • Could you let others know about this experience?
  • Could you pass this on to others?
  • Would you mind sharing your experience?
  • Would you add me to your contact list?

Giving recommendations:

  • I highly recommend using this product / service.
  • This person is highly trained / very skilled / very professional.
  • We found the information presented very useful.
  • I only have positive things to say about this product / this person / this service.
  • I would be happy to give you their contact information.
  • Please mention my name when you contact them.

Here are some examples:

Employee / colleague asking for a reference:

I am writing to you since we have worked on many projects together. You always seem very pleased with my ideas and the way that I deal with problems that come up, so I would like to ask you to share this information with a potential new supervisor. As you know, I am applying for a position in the [name] department and I need a recommendation from someone who has worked with me. Would you put in a good word for me?

Response to the request:

You are right, I am very satisfied with the work that you have done in the past. I’d be happy to act as a reference for you since I think that the [name] department would also benefit from your skills. If they contact me, I’ll definitely pass your name on as a potential candidate.

Possible reference statement:

I would be happy to recommend [name] for the position you are trying to fill. [He / she] is very highly qualified and has always successfully dealt with the topics we have worked on together in the past. I only have positive things to say about [him/ her]. Please mention my name to them if you decide to shortlist them for an interview.

Try it and tell us about it

Now that you have some ideas about how to ask for and give recommendations, why not try it out by asking a colleague for feedback on a presentation or a project you have recently completed?

Maybe you can do someone a favour by recommending them to others. Or perhaps you want to let us know what you think of the information presented in our blog? Please feel free to use our comments box below.

 

 

Email replies: How to avoid emotional emails

Do you send emotional email replies?

Normal
0

false
false
false

EN-US
X-NONE
X-NONE

/* Style Definitions */
table.MsoNormalTable
{mso-style-name:”Table Normal”;
mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;
mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;
mso-style-noshow:yes;
mso-style-priority:99;
mso-style-qformat:yes;
mso-style-parent:””;
mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;
mso-para-margin-top:0in;
mso-para-margin-right:0in;
mso-para-margin-bottom:10.0pt;
mso-para-margin-left:0in;
line-height:115%;
mso-pagination:widow-orphan;
font-size:11.0pt;
font-family:”Calibri”,”sans-serif”;
mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;
mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-fareast-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-fareast;
mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;
mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;
mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi;}
Professional email communication is essential in business situations. However, people sometimes let their emotions get the best of them and send an email they later regret. Multiple punctuation marks, all-capital letters along with a rude and unprofessional tone are often used to show how upset the sender is. We have all received them at one time or another. You may have been guilty of sending one, as well.

A quick reaction to receiving such an email would be to immediately send a response even angrier than the original, but what would that solve? Answering with your own angry and emotional email would only lead to more problems later. The important thing to remember when receiving such an email is to remain calm. There is no reason to maintain the angry dialogue by responding in the same manner, but simply ignoring the email won’t make the issue go away either.



Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

3 Tips on what to do to avoid emotional replies

Don’t write your response immediately. If you do, some of your own lingering emotions may show in your writing. Put the email aside until later in the day.

1.  After some time:

  • Take a deep breath
  • Try to see the situation from the sender’s position

2.  Ask yourself:

  • Why are they upset?
  • Is the issue a legitimate complaint, or has the sender lost sight of the big picture?
  • How can I help solve the issue?

3.  When writing your response:

  • Stay professional, diplomatic and objective
  • Stick to the facts
  • Do not respond to any of the original email’s unprofessional language or personal attacks

Emotional emails are often written to get a reaction and to bring awareness to a particular issue. Make sure you acknowledge this issue, but don’t try to pass the blame on to somebody else. By remaining professional, the sender will often realize how unnecessary their tone and language was.

Helpful phrases to help avoid emotional emails

Intro sentences:

  • “Thank you very much for taking the time to write me today.”
  • “I hope my email finds you well.”
  • “I have just read your email concerning…”

Addressing the issue:

  • “I understand your concern about…”
  • “With reference to your inquiry about…”
  • “Thank you for bringing … to my attention.”

Closing sentences:

  • “I appreciate your continued professionalism and patience as we resolve this issue.”
  • “Working together, I believe we can find a reasonable solution to this issue.”
  • “Your email has helped bring attention to this important issue.”

By keeping your email clear, concise and diplomatic, you open the door to a more efficient dialogue while also strengthening your professional relationships. Always avoid using language that you wouldn’t use if speaking to somebody face-to-face. If you have any phrases you like to use in these situations, please let us know below.  Also, check out our seminar on reader-oriented writing in English to improve your overall email communication.

Giving Feedback Virtually

Do you ever give feedback virtually?

Do you give your suppliers, your clients and your co-workers effective feedback – both positive and constructive (negative)? Giving good, timely, constructive and actionable feedback is something that most of us have to put a lot of effort into. Do we praise theVTchecklists right things? When we give constructive feedback, do we make positive suggestions? Do we always remember to address the issue, not the person?

Giving feedback well is not easy. But, giving feedback well in a business world that is becoming increasingly virtual can be a real challenge. When we add a few of the complexities that come from interacting virtually, we have an even harder job. Some of these challenges include timing, reading reactions, specificity and tone. When giving feedback virtually, for example via email, here are a few suggestions and tips below to help you do a better job.

Free eBook
download

5 Tips for giving feedback virtually

1.  Make sure that the timing is appropriate – especially if your feedback is negative. Think about raising a child or a pet; you don’t tell them they did something wrong three days later!

2.  Make sure that the reader understands immediately what the email is about:

  • Use a subject line like: “Feedback on your proposal”
  • Tell them in the first sentence why you are emailing: “I’m writing to you with some feedback regarding the proposal you sent me on January 4.”
  • Tell them what feedback is included: “I have some feedback regarding the pricing and the payment process.”

3.  Break your feedback up. If you told them you had feedback about the pricing and the payment process, these should be two completely separate paragraphs. Give them headings if you wish.

4.  Try to be specific and give justification. For example:

  • “We liked your proposal. Especially the second page where you mentioned that the training would focus on our corporate values. This really fits to our company philosophy.”
  • “Unfortunately, we cannot agree to point 3 in section 2, relating to the payment options. This is not in accordance with our compliance policy.”

5.  When rejecting a suggestion, try to make a counter suggestion. For example:

  • “We cannot agree to point 3 in section 2. However, we could agree if the payment period was extended to 60 days.”
  • “I do not like the way you formatted the report. Next time, try to base it on the attached example or come and see me to discuss my expectations in more detail.”

Of course, there are many other things which can help to make giving feedback virtually more effective. Please feel free to add your extra ideas in the comments section below. Also, make sure to check out our seminar on Working Effectively in Virtual Teams to help improve your virtual team’s performance.

 

 

Out of Office Message: Quick Reminders

How is your Out of Office Message?

Writing your out of office message is often the last thing you do before going on holiday or going on a business trip. Even though you might be in a rush to leave, make sure you think about the following tips to ensure that you have an accurate, informative and professional message.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download5 Quick Out of Office Message tips

Keep your message short and simple

Nobody wants to read an essay about why you are away. Keep to the important facts and make it easy to read.

Make sure that your return date is correct

If you use the same message each time you are away, make sure you change the date. It sounds simple but I am sure that we have all read out of office messages that have the wrong date and know how useless it is.

Does “Out of the office until Monday” mean you will be back on Monday or Tuesday? To be really clear, write, “I will be back on Monday.”

Who to contact while you are away

If you give the name of a contact person who is standing in for you during your time away, remember to include their contact details, if this is appropriate.  A name on its own creates more work for the person trying to contact you.

Use the Spell check

If you have spelling mistakes in your message it will look lazy and can create an unprofessional image of you and your company.  Make sure you read through the message, spell check it and check the formatting is ok. If in doubt, send yourself an email after you have turned your out of office on. That way, you will see how your message will look to other people.

Turn it on/off 

Don’t forget to turn it on! Also, remember to turn your out of office message off when you come back, it can be very confusing for people if you forget.

Example of an Out of Office Message you could use

 

I am currently out of office and will be back at work on Monday 14th April 2014. Your email will not be forwarded or read during my absence.

If you have any questions or need urgent support with (xyz) while I am away, please contact:

 John Smith  at  0049 123 456 789  or  john.smith@yourcompany.com

Best regards,

Jonny West

Do you agree with all of these points? Do you have any other tips that you would like to share?  Let us know in the comments area below. Also, check out our professional writing seminars if you are interested in improving your business communication.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Clarification Emails: Structure and Phrases

How do you write your clarification emails?

How many times have you gotten an email and asked yourself: What is this person trying to say?  What do they want exactly?  This has happened to all of us at some point in our jobs.  Even though this situation may be unavoidable, there are ways to respond to make sure you get the information you need.  Although you may be irritated or frustrated, it is important to not be too direct with your reply.  This could be read as offensive and possibly damage your professional relationship with the recipient.  Below is a helpful structure, and some phrases, to help you politely get what you want with your clarification emails.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail structure and phrases for clarification emails

1.  Thank the person for the information

  • Thanks for the information on the conference.
  • Thank you for sending along the details regarding the project timeline.
  • Thanks for the email Peter.

2.  Clarify what you don’t understand/still need

  • I’m afraid I don’t understand what you mean by ABC.  Could you please provide more details?
  • Regarding the deadline, are you saying that we should wait a few weeks?  Any additional information would be greatly appreciated.
  • I understand XYZ, but could you please clarify what you mean concerning ABC?

3.  Reference the next step politely

  • I am looking forward to receiving the updated information today.  Thanks for your help.
  • Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you this week.
  • I appreciate you taking the time to get back to me by the end of the day.

Examples of clarification emails

 

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the information on our meeting agenda.  I’m afraid I don’t understand what you want to do exactly after lunch.  What do you mean by “Discussion 1pm to 2pm”?  Thanks for clearing this up when you get a minute.

Matt

 

Hi Susan,

Thanks for sending along the spreadsheet I requested.  Regarding the “Reasons” column, did you leave that blank because we don’t need that information now?  Any additional information on that would be greatly appreciated.  Look forward to your response.

Matt

 

By replying to unclear emails politely and clearly, you can save time for both people and get the information exchange you want.  Let us know what has worked for you for clarification emails in the comments area below.  Want more help with emails or to improve your writing overall at work? Click here for information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Saying Goodbye: Email Phrases

What are you writing when saying goodbye in emails?

We need to say goodbye a lot. It sounds like a really easy thing to do, doesn’t it? But there are different situations in which we need to write emails for saying goodbye. Do you say the same thing to the colleague who is going on maternity leave as you do to the colleague who has just been made redundant? What about someone who is moving on to another department, or someone who has been promoted? Does how you say goodbye change according to how much you like the person? Each situation needs to be handled slightly differently and with an appropriate tone.


Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail structure and phrases for saying goodbye

1.  Congratulate them (when appropriate)

  • Congratulations on…
  • Well done….
  • I hear congratulations are in order.

2.  Tell them you’ve enjoyed working with them / that you’re going to miss them

  • It’s been great / nice / a pleasure working with you.
  • We’re going to miss you around here.
  • The place won’t be the same without you.

3.  Say you hope it goes well for them

  • I’d like to wish you all the best for…
  • Good luck with…
  • I hope everything goes well with…

4.  Ask them to remain in contact

  • Keep /stay in touch.
  • You know where I am if you need anything.
  • Don’t be a stranger.

Examples of saying goodbye in business situations

Promotion

Hi John,

I just heard you got the Senior Analyst job in France. Congratulations on the new position. We’re going to miss you around here. I’ve really enjoyed working with you and wish you all the best for this new challenge. Keep in touch.

Kate

Moving to another department

Hi Luis,

I just heard you’re moving over to marketing. Well done. That sounds like an interesting move. Good luck and don’t be a stranger.

Kate

Leaving the company (not by their own choice)

Hi Rob,

I was really sorry to hear that you’ll be leaving us. It’s been great working with you and I’m certainly going to miss having you around. All the best for the future.

Take care,

Kate

Going on parental leave

Hi Lena,

It can’t be long now! I hope everything goes well for you. Send us a photo and see you when you’re back. We’re going to miss you. Enjoy your last few nights of quiet!

Lots of luck,

Kate

You can change your level of warmth by adding more information, adding words of emphasis (really, very), and by taking out some steps. By using the structure and phrases above, you can make saying goodbye less awkward.  Want more help with emails or to improve your writing overall at work? Click here for information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Expressing Congratulations: Email phrases

Do you need some ideas on expressing congratulations to colleagues?

Expressing congratulations when something positive happens in the personal and professional lives of your colleagues and clients is a useful business skill. When you extend your sincere congratulations, you send the message that you care about what happens in the lives of others, even if it’s not connected to you personally. As a result, the colleagues and clients you reach out to are more likely to be pleased when you yourself succeed. In addition, expressing congratulations to your clients is an opportunity to network and remind the client that you’re there and ready to help them meet their business needs in the future. Applauding someone on the good things in their lives is a win-win situation.

Writing emails that people read: Free eBook downloadEmail phrases for expressing congratulations in a professional context

 

1.  promotion (when a colleague gets a higher position; e.g., from Junior Analyst to Senior Analyst)

  • Hi John. I just heard you got the Senior Analyst job. Congratulations on the new position.

Here we use the word congratulations. Note that this is an uncountable noun that always ends with s. We can use “Congratulations” as a standard way to praise someone in both spoken and written English, but we never say “Congratulation”.

2.  positive work performance (e.g., your colleague got a new project for the company)

  • Hi Sara. Michael just told me you won the ABC contract. That’s great news. Let me congratulate you on a job well done.

3.  a client gets a new position

  • Hi Hans. I just heard from Klara, our Account Manager, that you were recently promoted to General Manager. Congratulations. I’m looking forward to working with you in the future.

In the phrases above, we see the structures:
congratulations + on + (something)
Let me congratulate you + on + (something)

Email phrases for expressing congratulations in a private context

 

1.  marriage

  • Congratulations on your marriage! I’d like to wish you and your wife all the best.

2.  birth

  • Congratulations on the birth of your son.
  • Congratulations on the new addition to your family!  I hope mother and child are doing fine.

 

In past posts, we covered how to react when something bad happens. Now that we’ve given you some easy phrases to use when something good happens, you can confidently write your emails when expressing congratulations.  Want to improve your overall writing in English?  Click here for more information.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Polite emails: Hamburger Approach

Do you send polite emails?  Each day at work we send and receive many emails.  The longer you spend writing and replying to emails, the less time you have for other important tasks.  Why should you waste time trying to be polite in emails when all you need is some quick information from someone or to give them a quick answer?  The answer is simple: relationships.  Building lasting relationships is key in business, and how you write your emails can help.  Taking a few extra seconds to show professional and personal respect can go a long way.  One easy way is by keeping in mind the ‘Hamburger Approach’ when writing your emails.  You may have heard of this method for giving feedback as a manager.  A hamburger has three main parts: the top bun, the meat, and the bottom bun.  Here is how you can use these parts to create polite emails.

3 Parts of the Hamburger Approach for polite emails

1.  Polite introduction (top bun)

The goal here is to start off your email in a positive way.  This is especially helpful if you are delivering unpleasant news to your recipient.  Jumping right into your subject can be read as being very direct and abrupt.

  • I hope all is well today.
  • Thanks for your email Tim. (when replying to an email)
  • I hope you had a good holiday/weekend/business trip.

2.  Information/Request/Update (meat)

This is where you discuss the main point of your email.  It could be a quick answer, a request, etc.

  • Regarding the management meeting on Tuesday…
  • That proposal sounds good.  Let’s meet…
  • I am writing about the changes to our…

3.  Polite close (bottom bun)

The last part finishes the email in a positive way.  Without a phrase, like the ones below, your email will seem incomplete and unfinished.  This could lead to a negative impression for the recipient.

  • Thanks for your time and have a good day.
  • Feel free to contact me with any further questions.
  • I am looking forward to seeing you next week at the meeting.

Example of a polite email using the Hamburger Approach

 

Bill,

I hope all is well today and you had a good weekend.  I am writing about the change in the meeting agenda for our conference next week.  Could you please inform the others about the new schedule before the end of the week?  This is important to make sure everyone is prepared.  Thanks for your help.  I’m looking forward to seeing you next week in Boston.

Robert

 

You don’t have to use this approach with every email.  If you are emailing back and forth all day on a topic, this isn’t necessary.  It is important for the first or second email in an email exchange.  Keep this Hamburger Approach in mind and it will help you write polite emails.  Let us know if you have any other suggestions in the comments area below.  Want more help with polite emails or to improve your writing overall at work?  Click here for information.

Condolence Emails: Phrases and Structure

Writing condolence emails can be difficult

Have you ever had to write a condolence email to a colleague?  Writing to people about these topics obviously requires considerable diplomacy and the right choice of words. Broadly speaking most condolence emails have three steps. (Often only one sentence each).

3 Steps for writing condolence emails

1.  Acknowledge the death

2.  Sympathize

3.  Offer support

Of course, there is no set format for writing these kinds of emails- it largely depends on how much you want to say and how well you know the person. Below are two examples of an email / short letter to someone who has had the death of a family member recently.



Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download

Examples of a condolence email

 

Dear John Smith,
I was deeply saddened to hear of your Mother’s death recently. Although I didn’t know her personally,
I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. I truly hope that you and your family can gather the strength and courage to endure during this difficult time.
If there is anything I can do for you, please let me know.
Sincerely,

 

Dear Tom Atkinson,
I was saddened to hear of Bill’s death. I hope that you will accept my most sincere sympathy and condolences. Bill was such a well-liked person and it is difficult to accept that he is not with us any longer.
If there is anything I can do for you at this difficult time, please let me know.
Sincerely,

Simple religious sentiments may also be appropriate if you knew the colleague had faith. For example:

  • They / You are in my thoughts and prayers.
  • May God bless you and your family during this time.
  • May the comfort of God help you during this difficult time.
  • Kevin’s kind soul and giving spirit touched so many and will never be forgotten.
  • May God watch over your family during your time of need.

Alternate expressions to use for ‘death’

  • I’m sorry for your loss.
  • I understand that your ________ recently passed away.
  • I hope that ________is now at peace. ( for someone who had illness before death)
  • I would like to extend my sympathies for your recent bereavement.

Writing a condolence email can be a sensitive topic. By using the tips and phrases above, you can make sure your condolence emails are as thoughtful and professional as possible.  For more help with improving your writing at work, click here.

Email Confirmations: Using R.A.P.

A simple structure to confirm your discussion

Email confirmations are a key to avoiding confusion and saving time in business communication. The telephone is a great medium for quick discussions. Often agreements or commitments are made on the phone. But, one major disadvantage of agreements made over the telephone is the lack of written evidence. Where is the record of what was agreed?
If you make agreements over the phone, why not confirm them in writing with email confirmations? A quick follow-up email to confirm the agreement can prevent a lot of issues later on.
Follow a simple structure (R.A.P.) and your email confirmations should only take a few minutes.

Rap phrases

Reference – Action – Polite Close

Reference  

What was the subject of the discussion?
  • We spoke about …
  • Following our phone call this morning …
  • I am just writing to confirm our agreement …

Action

What points did we agree?
  • You mentioned that you would …
  • We agreed that I would …
  • As agreed, we will be…

Polite Close

 Polite close
  • Please let me know if there are any issues …
  • If this was not correct, please let me know.
  • I trust this was your understanding as well.

Example of email confirmations

You have just finished speaking to a supplier on the phone. You think that the results of your discussion are clear.  Your partner also thinks that everything is clear.
But are you both of the same opinion? Is there a potential for misunderstandings? 

Dear Jan
We spoke about rescheduling the delivery this morning.   
You mentioned that you would like to make the delivery on Saturday. I have arranged to have someone available at the plant to receive the order.   
Thanks again for giving me plenty of notice for this change to the delivery date.
Best regards
Helmut

Let us know what has worked with your writing at work in the comments section below. 

 

 

Holiday Greetings: Quick Email Phrases

Have you sent your holiday greetings to all your colleagues, suppliers, and customers?

It’s that time of year again. People keep dropping by my desk to ask what they should write in their emails they want to send out before the holiday period ahead of us. There isn’t really one set thing that you have to say, but it’s a good idea to consider cultural aspects when composing your text. It’s fine to say “Happy Christmas” to people you know celebrate Christmas, but is it the best message to send out across the company or to clients you don’t know well? Here we offer you some phrases which use the word “Christmas” and some which use alternatives – the main ones being “holiday period / season” or “festive period / season”.


Writing emails that people read: Free eBook download
Phrases for holiday greetings

Less formal

  • We really appreciate the great teamwork this year and look forward to a repeat show in 2014! Thank you.
  • We wish all of you a very Happy Christmas and a smooth start to the New Year.
  • Wishing you and your family a wonderful holiday season!
  • Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

More formal

  • We would like to use this occasion to express our thanks for the successful cooperation this year, and we very much look forward to working with you again in 2014.
  • We wish a very happy festive season to you and all your staff.
  • We would like to wish you and all your staff a very happy festive season.
  • We wish you a very Happy Christmas, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.
  • Season’s Greetings!

An example email

Dear Ms Eisenmann,
We would like to say how much we enjoyed working with you this year. We very much look forward to continuing to work with you next year and wish both you and your team a very happy holiday period, and a healthy and prosperous New Year.

Best regards,
The Target Team

Note: Happy Christmas / New Year  – each word starts with a capital letter.

Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. If you post your holiday greetings email you want to write, we’d be happy to give you feedback on it.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

If you’re looking for phrases, tips and tricks and useful downloads related to this topic, start here. In a range of topics, here are some more links for you:

Rescheduling Meetings: Avoiding Confusion

How to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings

One of the challenges of communicating internationally in English is how to clearly describe changes when rescheduling meetings. Frequently, there’s confusion about words like postpone, move forward, move back and delay. And while it’s not actually a word in Standard English, the word ‘prepone’ has reared its head recently, much to the confusion of native and non-native speakers of English alike.  In this post, we’ll take a look at the meanings of some commonly used words and phrases so you can know their meanings in the future. Then, we’ll throw them away completely and give you an email template that will let you feel confident that the recipients of your email will know where they should be and when.

New Call-to-action

Words and phrases used when rescheduling meetings

postpone

To take place at a time later than originally scheduled

  • I postponed the meeting until Friday.
  • The meeting has been postponed until Friday.
delay

To make someone or something late or slow

  • Our flight from Shanghai to Stuttgart was delayed by 50 minutes.
  • The problems delayed the release of the project.
move forward

For some people, you move an appointment forward by moving it to an earlier time or date. However, some cultures view the progression of time differently, so this phrase can be confusing.

  • Can we move the date of our meeting forward?
  • They moved the date of the supplier meeting forward to Friday.
move back

Again, for some people, this means to move a meeting to a later time or date. As mentioned before, this can be confusing.

  • I’m afraid we have to move the meeting back.
  • They’re getting in later than we expected, so we have to move the start back.

What’s the solution?

In order to be 100% everyone understands where they need to be and when, leave out time phrases that can be confusing and use ‘from’ and ‘to’. ‘From’ designates the old time of the meeting and ‘to’ designates the new time of the meeting. This way, there’s no confusion about if the appointment is earlier or later.

An email example on rescheduling meetings

Hi everyone,
Due to a meeting room problem, the time of the project kick-off meeting has been changed from Monday, January 13th at 11:00 in room 143 to Wednesday January 15th at 16:00 in room 324.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,
Michael

Rescheduling meetings can cause confusion if you don’t use the correct language and structure.  Let us know if you have anything to add in the comments area below. Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.

Following these 4 quick and easy steps, and using the phrases above, will help you have clearer communication in your meetings.  By alleviating your meeting misunderstandings, you will have faster, more productive meetings and save everyone time.  Want to improve your meetings?  Click here for more info on how.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

Email Complaints: 5 Keys to Replying

Handling complaints by email can be tricky

It is always better to handle them face-to-face or over the telephone, but sometimes you don’t have a choice. Every complaint is different, but there are enough similarities with each to approach them with a structure in mind. We can all receive complaints from customers, colleagues, suppliers, or even our boss. It is important to respond quickly, professionally, and politely.  Below is a suggested structure and some phrases to help you when handling email complaints.

5 Keys to replying to email complaints

1.  Start with a thank you:
  • Thank you for your email.
  • Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.
  • Thanks for letting me know about this issue.
2.  Apologize:
  • I am sorry to hear about …
  • We are very sorry that …
  • Please accept my apologies for …
3.  Show understanding of the other person’s situation:
  • I understand that this can cause some delays…
  • I know that this delay might cause…
  • I understand your concern regarding …
4.  Clearly state what next steps you will take to help:
  • I will contact my boss and see how we can solve this issue.
  • We will resend a new part immediately at no charge.
  • I will check with the shipping department and get back to you ASAP.
5.  End with a polite closing:
  • Sorry again for any inconvenience caused.  Let me know if you need anything else.
  • Thanks for your understanding and patience.
  • We appreciate your understanding and let us know what questions you might have.

Example of handling email complaints

Mark,

Thank you for your email and bringing the shipping issue to my attention.  I am sorry to hear that you have not received the replacement part as promised.  I understand that this delay has caused you issues in production and needs to be taken care of ASAP.  I will contact our Logistics Dept and DHL immediately and see what is causing this delay.  I will then contact you immediately with the best solution.  Thanks for your understanding and patience.

Rick

By replying to email complaints quickly, professionally, and politely; you can avoid escalation of the issue.  Let us know if you have any suggestions or tips in the comment area below.

Request Emails: Getting What You Want

Writing request emails

Have you ever written request emails to a colleague and never received the information you needed? While it might be one of the most frustrating situations in business, the reality is that we have very little control over how people react to our requests. There are many different factors that can influence how someone responds, or doesn’t respond, to request emails. Some of the factors include, but are not limited to: their culture, their workload and their personality. In light of this, we have to deal with the fact that we can’t control how someone will react when we ask for something. We can, however, control how we ask for things. We can ask in a way that gives our colleagues an incentive to respond by telling them the reasons why we need the information.

Quick and easy structure for request emails

1. Something nice

This should be something short and polite that doesn’t require an answer. It’s enough if we use simple phrases to wish our colleague well.

  • I hope you’re having a nice Friday.
  • I hope you had a nice weekend.
  • I hope you’re doing well.
  • I hope this email finds you well. (This means that we hope the person is well, or doing good, when they open the email.)

2. what you need

Here we simply state what it is we want.

  • Can you send me the agenda for our annual meeting?
  • As you might remember from my email dated Oct 1, 2013, I need the price spreadsheet for XYZ company.
  • As you may recall from our previous contact, I need the ABC document for my report.

3.  why you need it

This is the missing element in many request emails. You have a better chance of getting what you need if you give a reason for the request. First, it helps explain why your colleague should take time to help you. Second, it can link the request to your organization as a whole, or to the work your colleague does.

  • I need the price spreadsheet so I can put together a proposal for the client next year.
  • It is important that I have the spreadsheet so I can complete the analysis.
  • If I don’t have the final sales numbers, I wont be able to get the report finished.

4.  something nice

Again, the “something nice” here is as simple as a ‘thank you’ accompanied by the following short phrases:

  • Have a nice day.
  • Have a nice weekend.
  • Have a good afternoon.

If the suggested structure above seems like a lot of work, compare it to the time and frustration it costs to write repeated request emails and get no answer. We can write a polite request that will help us get what we want and includes all the necessary information in just four short sentences.

Below is an example of a request email using this structure. Let us know if you have any suggestions or comments.

Good example of request emails with structure

Hi Sarah,
I hope you’re having a good Thursday.
Could you please send me the payment details for the payment made by XYZ Company on Sep 22, 2012 in the amount of €5,000? As you know, year-end closing is coming soon and I need to clear that payment to balance our accounts.
Thank you.
Have a nice day.
Best regards,
Jake

For more information on how to write well in English at work, click here.

Email Phrases: Getting the Tone Right

Adapting your message

It can be difficult to know what email phrases to use in your business emails. This depends on whom your audience is, and if the business situation is formal or informal.  You don’t want your emails to make a business partner uncomfortable, so it is important to use the correct email phrases at the correct times.  Using an email phrase that is too formal can make you seem stiff or cold, while using one that is too informal can make you seem presumptuous or arrogant.  Here are some good phrases to use in certain situations for both formal and informal writing.

Email phrases for formal business situations

  • Talking about the last contact:  I am writing in reference to your last email about…
  • Giving the reason for writing:  I am writing concerning…
  • Giving good news:  I am pleased to inform you that…
  • Giving bad news:  I’m afraid that…
  • Asking for something:  Could you please…
  • Sending an attachment:  Please find attached…
  • Offering help at the end of an email:  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.
  • Talking about the next contact:  I look forward to seeing you next week.

Email phrases for informal business situations

  • Talking about the last contact:  Thanks for your email.
  • Giving the reason for writing:  I’m just emailing to…
  • Giving good news:  I am pleased to say that…
  • Giving bad news:  Sorry, but…
  • Asking for something:  Can you just…
  • Sending an attachment:  I’ve attached…
  • Offering help at the end of an email:  If you’ve got any questions, feel free to ask.
  • Talking about the next contact:  See you next week.

Using good email phrases at the right time can help you build business relationships more effectively. Let us know of any other suggestions you might have in the comments area below.