Vague words that muddle your emails

Murky deadlines, pronouns with ambiguous antecedents, and exhortations to ‘work your magic’ can baffle colleagues and clients, while risking that you don’t get precisely what you need.

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The email in my inbox was short but not quite to the point, as it turns out: “Yes, that’s right.”

I had asked two questions; which one was “right”?

We’ve all been in this situation, either as the recipient squinting at the screen in confusion or as the sender thinking the meaning is clear as day. Confusing exchanges not only are frustrating when they happen frequently, but also turn a “convenient” method of communication into a waste of time.

You might as well have picked up the phone. How archaic.

If you’re frequently asked to clarify your emails, a handful of phrases is likely to blame. Here are common words to avoid in emails. Use them with caution—or, better still, expunge them from your vocabulary—and you’ll save time and energy in trying to get your point across.

First and foremost, pronouns:

The principal rule of all communication is to be as specific as possible. You’re not a mind reader, and neither is your recipient. Pronouns have a time and a place, and your writing would look ridiculous without them. However, to avoid confusion, make sure you’ve clearly identified the pronoun’s antecedent—the noun that the pronoun is replacing.

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