Are you using any of these common torpedo words in your emails?

It takes practice and thoughtfulness to improve Netiquette (email etiquette). Because email offers the least amount of personal interaction, every single aspect of the email can have an effect on how both sender and receiver perceive each other.

Here are six best practices and a list of torpedo words (to avoid), helping you get your emails opened, read and responded to:

Six best practices to start with

1. Make sure the email address fields are populated with proper names.
2. Provide an accurate subject line which clearly states the email content.
3. Stay on message and use a maximum of one or two sentences for introductions and niceties.
4. Keep formats clear and consistent. Avoid unnecessary embellishments.
5. Avoid boilerplate
6. Avoid “torpedo words” which are clichéd or indicate a laziness in writing. A sampling of these unfortunate word choices is listed below.

Introducing the Torpedo words

The consequences poorly written emails can bring is any of a number of important messages will not even be read. The following represent potential “torpedo” words or short phrases which can change the entire content of an email. These should be excluded from anyone’s practice.

Truth of the matter With all due respect (condescending) Singlehandedly
Quite frankly Bring it on (arrogant) Hit the ground running
Take it the next level Works for me (trite and clichéd) If you will
The thing is You know (weak) Seriously
As it were I am not going to lie (to you) (implies lack of truth) Team player
At the end of the day And so forth… (a crutch) Natural leader
And so forth All intents and purposes, worse yet “all intends and purposes” (clichéd and a crutch) Quick learner
To be perfectly honest Results oriented (weak and overused) That type of thing
With all due respect Transferrable skills (implies a lack of capabilities) Totally
Mark my words Job duties far exceeded… (an overgeneralization)


Duplicate words that say the same thing

Another pratfall to avoid in email communications is mistakenly using redundant words on a regular basis. Unlike spelling and grammar checks, there are few products or tools that flag these occurrences. If you practice diligence in avoiding these, your clarity and messaging will improve.

Examples of redundant word pairs
• past remembrances
• basic fundamentals
• true facts
• honest truth
• terrible tragedy
• final outcome
• unexpected surprise
• past history
• future plans
• boundary line

There are many, many more of these, and the best way to reduce their usage is to edit text before sending. Because each and every email is limited in scope and human contact, the avoidance of even the slightest mistake is a must.

If an email marketer can avoid these torpedo words, their email will be instantly and perceptively improved. When competing for a job, contract or almost anything else, omitting these words and others similar to them, will at times make all the difference.

Keep it clear, factual and easy to understand

When authoring an email, the writer depends should assure that their intended content is clear, factual and easily understood. If the email recipient is not someone the sender knows, then tone and accuracy are essential to insure that both the initial message and beyond are read. Often, a poorly written and Netiquette lacking email, will preclude the reader from engaging further on that email or even future messages from the sender.

Keep and utilize writing tools, such as dictionaries, a thesaurus or other books at hand to assist you in finding just the right word or phrase to use. Once the practice of Netiquette usage becomes more natural, a discernible improvement will come about.

How do you work good writing practices into your emails? Have any tips to share from your experience with torpedo words or redundant pairs? Comment, and join the conversation!

Image via Flickr

Paul Babicki

Career technology sales and marketing professional, Paul Babicki, is the founder and president of Tabula Rosa Systems, a company that sells email filtering and internet security systems, as well as email grammar, tone and content software and is currently developing an email IQ rating system, Netiquette IQ.

Paul also writes a popular blog for email Netiquette, hosts an email etiquette radio program on BlogTalkRadio and has a discussion group with Yahoo.

He is a member of the International Business Etiquette and and Protocol Group and consults for the Gerson Lehrman Group, a worldwide network of subject matter experts.