Every day and in every interaction, people make assumptions about us. At work that can mean everything from "I can see why he's in that senior role" to "I can't believe she got that promotion."

Little things count.

Here are four small changes you can make to be taken more seriously, whatever your role.

 

1. "Thanks for listening" not "Sorry for venting"

If you're clearly in the wrong, apologize.

If you're simply talking a lot or making a suggestion, skip the sorry's altogether. 

Too many of us apologize too much.

  • "Sorry, I'm too busy to help out..."
  • "I'm sorry, but I disagree with you...."
  • "Sorry!" as someone else bumps into you.

If you find yourself apologizing in circumstances like these, you're likely apologizing too much. You're undermining your credibility before you've even got your message out.

Instead, try this: Keep track of how much you're using the S word. Ask yourself, do I need to apologize for ____? If you can't commit to something, remember: a simple "No" typically suffices - no apology required. 

 

2. Just a minute...

Take a look at the last 3 emails you sent in which you made a request or posited a suggestion.

Is the word "just" lurking in there, undermining your asks?

  • "Just checking in..."
  • "Just wanted to ask a question..."

Don't minimize your request before you've even made it - cut the J word and own your question, as well as the right to ask it.

 

3. Lay off the exclamation marks - AND THE ALL CAPS

A great writer once said to approach punctuation as though you have only 400 exclamation marks to use in your lifetime. Does that change things for you?

If so, you might be exclaiming too much! Not everything requires the urgency an exclamation mark implies! And some people find them annoying! Especially when used liberally! Do you see?

AND DID YOU KNOW THAT ALL-CAPS IS THE WRITTEN EQUIVALENT OF SHOUTING? Well, now you do.

Like exclamations, use all caps sparingly - keep your correspondents' blood pressure down, and make sure your emphasized text carries the weight it deserves by using it only when warranted.

 

4. Let the other person emoji first

As a rule, it's best not to use emoji in your work correspondence unless you know the recipient well and know they speak your (emoji) language. And use them sparingly when you do. If you don't know someone well, let them make the first (emoji) move. Of course, if you know them well or that your company culture embraces #emojilife, have at it. 🤗