3 Words You Should Never Use in an Email

When we are experiencing ‘rapport’ in a conversation, whether in a face-to-face meeting, a phone call or an email, the natural flow of information back and forth is easy and comfortable.

And then, when we use a word that is incongruent with the flow of conversation, we often negate and discount what was previously said or written.

There are 3 commonly used incongruent words that create an environment that is uncomfortable, distrusting and unstable.

  • But
  • However
  • Yet

For example, when you read a sentence such as your hair looks nice, but . . .” what is your immediate reaction? It’s a negative one, isn’t it?

The full sentence is “your hair looks nice, but isn’t it a bit short now"?

Can you see how the word “but” invalidates anything that was written before it? It creates a ‘disconnect’ and you simply don’t clearly hear what comes after it.

Using incongruent words like these creates distrust of the entire message. At an intuitive level, we feel uneasy. We sense that something is not quite right. Using them disempowers the sender because the receiver is left suspicious and wondering what the real message is.

This is especially the case when using email as we have no body language or voice tone and inflection to ‘soften’ the message. And when your message is unclear, it can take a number of e-mails back and forth to clarify the situation. This results in a growing distrust and decreased rapport in the immediate conversation as well as the longer term relationship.

From 'The Speed of Trust' by Stephen Covey Jnr

So, to alter the incongruent condition in an e-mail conversation, replace the incongruent words with the word “and” whenever you want to ensure that your point of view will be heard without resistance. The use of “and” provides a seamless communication that links two opposing components of the conversation together.

The conversation flows clearly into the other person's thought, idea, view, or feeling. They actually hear what you have to say and can incorporate your idea, thought, or opinion with their own, without the mental resistance that so often comes when the words “but”, “yet” or “however” are used..

From 'The Speed of Trust' by Stephen Covey Jnr

So in future, simply respond with "and" when you have an alternative viewpoint. It's that easy. It will help maintain rapport with the reader.

Why not try this idea when responding to emails this week and see how it goes?

All the best!

Steuart G. Snooks