Communicating like a boss

Communicating like a boss

Tips for effective and assertive emails

MP EDITION 067

In what is often a male-dominated workplace, confidence in the workplace for women is key. These days, we are communicating more and more through email and online methods so it’s important to have tip-top communication skills. We've provided a few suggestions to help you clear your inbox successfully. 

Email tips

Here are some common email scenarios and tips on how to craft your responses. 



Something went wrong


Listen, things are inevitably going to go wrong at some point. The important thing is to try to remediate and move forward as best as possible. Instead of trying to place blame or defend yourself, say "here are some ideas on how we can move forward."


On the other hand. if you are the one who messed up big-time, it may be best in some scenarios to acknowledge it briefly, then talk about ways to move forward. And most importantly, learn from this situation and ensure you don’t make the same mistake next time.



Stop saying sorry 


I’ll say it louder for those in the back: stop. apologizing! You don’t need to say sorry for things you have no reason to be sorry for. Women (and Canadians) have a tendency to say “sorry” a lot when there’s really nothing to apologize for.


  • If you made an error or overlooked a detail, instead of saying sorry, say “thanks for flagging” or “thanks for bringing it to my attention”
  • Or instead of apologizing for a delay, say “I appreciate your patience, I will get this to you by EOD.”

Asking for statuses


It can feel awkward to ask for statuses but remember that you are entirely within your right to ask for an update, especially if you’re managing a project or overseeing something and especially if the deliverable is late. Transparency and open communication within a team are key. 


  • Instead of “Just wanted to check in on ABC project”, say “When can I expect an update?” 
  • Instead of: “The deadline is the end of the week”, say “When do you think you can get this done?”

Your time matters too!


Often, women in the workplace are expected to be more accommodating but those antiquated notions. Remind yourself that your time is just as important! 


Instead of “What works best for you?”, say “Could you do 1 pm on Tuesday?”



When someone thanks you


It can be uncomfortable to accept accolades but don’t try to downplay your help or work, especially if it was not an easy task. 


Instead of “No problem” or “No worries”, say “Always happy to help”



Avoid “I think”


It gives off the illusion that you’re not sure of your own opinion. Oftentimes, if you just cut out “I think the sentence will still work and it has automatically transformed into a more assertive one. Try it in your next email!



Ending an email


End your emails strong with a clear call to action. Don’t undercut your authority or expertise with a question or uncertain language. 

Instead of “Hopefully that makes sense?”, say “Let me know if you have questions.”

Other email tips

  • Proofread, proofread, proofread. Especially names. Typos reflect badly on you in every situation.
  • KISS (keep it short and sweet): This rule is a classic one that holds true in any situation. The fact of the matter is that when people see a wall of text, they will be put off of reading it. These days, people are reading emails on the go, so they may not have the time to carefully read every word. Try to keep your email to the most pertinent details, and if there is a lot of information to cover, make it scannable with the important information in bolded titles and use bullet points or lists.

  • Write a good subject line: One that is reflective of the contents of your email. When people are busy and their inbox is quickly filling up. They’ll glance through subject lines to choose which ones to open and you don’t want your email passed over. 

  • Jump on a call: If you find there’s a lot of back and forth or you’re writing a novel masquerading as an email, it might be easier to just jump on a call to talk through things.

  • Cut the fluff: Avoid filler phrases like “With all due respect,..” or “As I mentioned before,..”

  • Communicate clearly and effectively. 



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