Ever have one of those moments when you are emailing someone, send off the email, and then think, ‘did I sound harsh/dumb/silly/desperate/bored/ ___? ‘ (feel free to fill in the blank with your own adjective).

These days, an online presence is more important than ever for job seekers and entrepreneurs. It’s a lightening fast way to develop connections, cultivate friendships, and foster online community collaborations and support. Whether it’s emailing, IM’ing, DM’ing, tweeting, or texting– especially if we don’t know the other person in real life– it’s important to remember your tone.

Certain aspects of your “tone” can mean certain things, or certain words you say could mean something different to another. Evaluate how you want to be perceived and how to write in a way that will get your message across the way you want. If the wrong tone is perceived, the reader may become offended. Whether subtle or loud, tone is attitude.

A few simple tips include:

1- Don’t write in ALL CAPS. It implies yelling.

2-Avoid emails that make assumptions, “I’m sure you agree..”

3-Try to avoid sarcasm or slang. It may not come across as you would like it to. People have different types of humor. Yours might come across to them as rude.

4-If you are emailing to a global audience (international jobs), avoid using words that other countries may not understand, i.e. “my bad”, “what’s up”, “what’s happening?!”, etc.

5- Use spell check and grammar check. If emailing to prospective employers, as always, it’s important to keep an eye out for spelling or syntax errors.

Your tone is like your body language, so be sure to have it in check when emailing people you want to impress. Sit up, look alive, smile and send online correspondence with confidence.

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3 Responses


I have seen so many cases come through my practice where people are being terminated for what they have said in professional email communications. Great post!


I agree Kenneth. To few people truly understand the potential consequences they may face before firing off a blistering email to a supervisor or colleague.

Thanks for your feedback!

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