7 Words You’re Using That Make You Sound Rude in Emails


We’ve all received an email where you read it and think, that sounds a bit rude or abrupt. In most instances, the sender won’t have meant to sound that way. However, as we all know it’s much easier to convey your tone and emotions when speaking to someone directly rather than in an email.

The problem is that the words that we perceive as rude in emails are ones that we use every day. We naturally include them when writing in the same way we would when we speak, but our tone gets lost in the email.

Below are seven of the most common culprits that you’re probably using.

1. Actually

We tend to use ‘actually’ when we are correcting someone. When written down, it can sound a bit hostile or like you think you know it all. Either way, it comes across as rude.

2. Thanks

‘Thanks’ when used in an email tends to sound sarcastic or ingenuine. This is somewhat ironic as when we say ‘thanks’ we are usually trying to be polite. If we’re genuinely grateful, we more likely to say, ‘thank you very much’, so it’s better to use this version in emails.


Asking a colleague to complete something ‘ASAP’ is never going to come across as friendly or polite. It can make them feel like you think they are lazy or not good at doing their job. Instead, you should let them know a specific deadline e.g. ‘lunchtime tomorrow’.

4. Need

When you’re at work, you need things done – that’s a given. However, the word ‘need’ certainly doesn’t need to be used in your work emails. As with the example above, it’s more polite to set a deadline as then you get your point across and will still get what you need without sounding rude.

5. Sorry

Like ‘thanks’, ‘sorry’ is a word that we use in conversation to be polite, but in emails it only tends to sound rude and sarcastic. It comes across more that you are shrugging off a mistake and aren’t genuinely apologetic. This is because it’s often overused. If you do want to apologise, it’s better to do it in person.

6. Obviously

If you’re using ‘obviously’ in a sentence, then you are suggesting that the information you are giving should be obvious, but the person you are giving it to needs to be reminded of it anyway. This can sound like you are insulting their intelligence and is condescending when used in an email.

7. Fine

If you’re sending an email to let a colleague know that their work/suggestion/idea is ‘fine’, it is usually perceived as being in a negative tone. To be on the safe side, go for something more positive sounding like ‘good’.


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