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  • e.wulfe

Make or Break Your Reputation with One Email

Updated: Dec 30, 2021


Warren Buffet once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” We may devote time to cultivating our online reputation and yet shoot off emails without a second thought. I have found it to be well worth my time to devote care and attention to my emails. My reputation is too important to me to risk it.

When I craft emails, I keep these three words in mind — Eliminate the Fluff. One way to ensure our emails receive the perception we intend and garner the reputation we deserve is to eliminate all the fluff. Using qualifiers, hedges, fillers, and other useless prefaces make us look weak and unconfident. Here are five tips for crafting more confident messages.

  1. Delete the word “just” from our emails. “I’m just concerned.” “I just want to check.” “It’s just an idea, but…” We use the word “just” way too often. It is a qualifier that waters down whatever we accompany with it. And when we water down our statements, we sound less confident.

  2. Hopefully is not hopeful at all. The word hopefully perfectly communicates that we are powerless and unreliable. “Hopefully I will be able to get it done.” If there are conditions or events that affect our commitment, then we sound far more confident when we state them explicitly. For instance, “as long as I receive comments back by Wednesday at noon, I can turn this around by end of day on Friday.”

  3. You are not a bother. Confidence is key. Eliminate “I hate to bother you but…” from all of our communications. This introductory clause not only demonstrates a complete lack of confidence, but it also gives the impression that we feel inferior or subservient to the person we are writing. When we use this “bother excuse”, it generally has nothing to do with our potentially inconvenient timing. It is more likely because we fear the response we may receive. We will impress our reader as far more confident if we instead say, “When you have a minute, I would like to discuss something with you.”

  4. “Maybe” we should try to commit. Using the word “maybe” often shows a lack of commitment, intention, and direction. If we cannot fully commit to a “yes” or “no,” we will leave a far greater impression by responding instead with “I would like to hear more details first.”

  5. Don’t “think or “believe”. The use of words, “I think” or “I believe” completely zaps our conviction to the statement that follows. Instead of “I believe this is an important issue for us to explore” it is far more confident to simply write, “this is an important issue for us to explore.”

Let’s try to say what we mean and cut out the fluff. When we make this an email habit, we will impress our readers as far more confident and competent.

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