Writing Great Emails: Apologizing

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Apology, To apologize, Apologies: When you say that you’re sorry

He apologized for being late, but I couldn’t accept his apology. This happens too often. I’m tired of his apologies.

(2) To mess up: To make a mistake

I really messed up this time. I hope she doesn’t fire me.

(3) Blame: Responsibility for something bad

I blame our old technology. It makes everything go so slowly.

Today’s

Questions

1. What can you write in order to accept blame?

a. That was my fault.

b. It’s unfortunate that happened.

c. I heard they messed up your order.

2. What can you write to blame an unknown person?

a. It was wrong that I…

b. I understand that…

c. You’ll accept my apologies for…

3. What is the best length for an apology email?

a. Short

b. Medium

c. Long

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

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En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

Everyone makes mistakes. We feel terrible and we need to apologize. But how?

In this post, you’ll learn a few different ways to say that you’re sorry.

Review the situation and apologize

The first step in an apology email is to describe the bad thing that happened and say that you’re sorry. You should describe the situation simply and directly. Don’t write a lot. The other person probably already knows what happened. Still, you have to say something. Here are some examples:

I just learned that you didn’t receive your order. That was my fault. I’m really sorry.

I wanted to apologize for not telling you about the change.

I understand that you didn’t receive the order. Please accept my apologies.

It was unfortunate that you had such a bad experience at the show. I’m sorry that had to happen.

Note that in the first two examples, you did something wrong, so you accept responsibility. To focus the blame on yourself, say I. If it’s unclear who was wrong, you can say that was my fault. That means you accept the blame.

In the third and fourth examples, it seems like someone else was wrong. Sometimes you need to say sorry even though you didn’t make the mistake. I understand that and It was unfortunate that are good ways to do this. You don’t want to name the person who made the mistake. This lets you describe the bad thing without blaming anyone at all.

Please accept my apologies and I’m sorry that had to happen are good phrases in either situation. They’re formal and polite. They can be used in most situations.

Casual Apologies

Not every company or every person likes such formal language as above. For example, if you’ve been working with someone for a while and you’re friendly, the language above would seem strange. How can you apologize to a friend? Here are some examples.

I messed up with that. Sorry.

I really screwed that up.

Just needed to say sorry for that meeting yesterday.

In all three situations, you’re using casual language. Messed up and screwed up are both very casual. In the third example, just needed to is an informal way to start a sentence.

What’s next?

After saying that you’re sorry, you should suggest a solution if it’s possible. Then change the topic and end with something happier. Try to focus on the future and what’s going to happen next.

Don’t write a long email.

After you say you’re sorry and change the topic, end the email. It’s usually good advice to write short emails, but it’s especially important with apologies. Nothing good happens when you write details about how sorry you are or a long explanation about what went wrong. It doesn’t make the person feel better. If they need a long explanation, you might have to write more, but it will be better to meet with them than to write about it.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

A, B, A

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You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Polite vs. Direct

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Assertive: Strongly presenting your opinion

Be very assertive when you ask for a raise. Tell her exactly why she should give it to you. Don’t be afraid.

(2) Rude: Impolite

I can’t believe how rude he is! He asked how old I was and if I was on a diet!

(3) Grateful: Thankful

I was really grateful you were there. I would have done terrible without you.

Today’s

Questions

1. What is a big advantage of being direct?

a. You know no one will be angry

b. You know you will be understood

c. You know they’ll like you

2. What is a big advantage of being polite?

a. You know no one will be angry

b. You know you will be understood

c. You know they’ll like you

3. What is one way to be polite?

a. Tell a joke

b. Say that something is possible

c. Ask if something is possible

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

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En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

Do you want to be more polite or more direct when you’re writing emails? There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Of course, it’s not quite so simple. In a perfect world, your writing will be both polite and direct.

In today’s lesson, you’ll learn about the differences. Then you’ll study some examples.

Direct

Advantages: Direct writing is confident and assertive. You’re acting like you know what you’re writing about very well. It’s also very clear.

Disadvantages: Direct writing can be rude and uncaring if you’re not careful.

Polite

Advantages: You’ll be friendly, likeable, and caring.

Disadvantages: By focusing on being polite, it might not seem like something is very important to you.

Let’s look at a situation. The first sentence will be direct. The second will be polite. The third will be a combination.

Situation: You need to request 500 extra units of something at the last minute. You’re writing to your supplier.

Direct: Please send 500 extra units. We will need them by Friday.

Polite: Do you think it would be possible to send us 500 extra units by Friday? We’d be most grateful.

Notice that the direct version is very short and clear. No one would misunderstand you. However, you’re giving an order here. Do you want to order your supplier? What if they can’t do it? What if they’ll feel bad if you don’t ask nicely? Maybe you’ll offend them.

The polite version could be misunderstood. It doesn’t seem important. However, by saying “do you think it would be possible,” you’re being very kind. “We’d be most grateful” means that you’re thanking them in advance. They haven’t even done anything, and you’ve already thanked them!

Best: We really need 500 extra units by Friday. Can you help us out with this order?

This is best. You’re being direct, but polite. You still ask a question, but only after you’ve been direct. (Questions make English more polite.) Also, you don’t thank them in advance. Instead, you ask a short question and imply that you’ll thank them for the help.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

B, A, C

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You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Useful Phrases #3

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Contact: Someone you know

I have a contact at that firm. Let me see if she can help.

(2) Independent clause: This is a grammar term. It basically means a sentence.

“Wondering about books” is a dependent clause. “I wonder about books” is an independent clause.

(3) To commit yourself: To agree to do something

I committed myself to working here for at least five years. After that, I might go back to school.

Today’s

Questions

1. Is “I’ll put you in touch with” casual or formal?

a. Casual

b. Formal

c. It can be used in both situations

2. Why does “It seems as if” let you change your mind

a. You’re talking about the evidence for something, not the thing itself

b. You’re making it seem like you’re not sure about the truth

c. You’re being very direct

3. Which sentence is a stronger belief?

a. He’ll get the contract.

b. It seems as if he’ll get the contract.

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

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En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

This week on the blog I’ll introduce two more useful phrases. You’ll learn what they mean and read a few examples of how you might use them.

1. I’ll put you in touch with

We use I’ll put you in touch with to introduce a contact. It’s polite and can be used in formal or casual situations. The contact might be someone who can help you or who will work with you. Here are two examples:

I’ll put you in touch with Julie in HR. She’ll help you with your orientation around here.

I’ll put you in touch with Mike at the law firm. The two of you should work together to complete this project.

I’ll put you in touch with is used when you are connecting two people. It can also be used to describe anyone being connected. Here are some examples:

She got me in touch with HR. They’ve been very helpful.

I need to get in touch with someone who knows the details better.

We’ve been in touch for a long time, but this is the first time we’re working closely together.

2. It seems as if…

It seems as if is a nice way to soften your sentence and take away personal responsibility. It lets you easily change your mind. It means “I think this is true because of the evidence.” It’s followed by an independent clause. For example:

It seems as if he doesn’t care.

It seems as if we’ll get the contract.

By itself, He doesn’t care, is very direct. You’re very sure. By adding “It seems as if” to the beginning, you’re leaving some doubt. You don’t want to be rude. You’re saying that the evidence shows that he doesn’t care. But he might.

Same for the second example. Something makes you think that you’ll get the contract. But your comment is on the evidence, not the contract.

It is therefore a nice way to give an opinion without committing yourself. If the evidence changes, you can easily change your mind and not look stupid.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

C, A, A

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You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Useful Phrases #2

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) One time event: Something that doesn’t happen many times

This extension is a one time event. We can’t do it again.

(2) To get discouraged: To think things will be bad

I got discouraged after he sent back the report again. I’m not sure he’ll ever be satisfied.

(3) Process: A series of events that lead to a result

This writing process is taking much longer than I had planned. There is so much to do.

Today’s

Questions

1. When can we use along the way to mean while?

a. When it’s about a process

b. For a one time event

c. To describe the events of a trip

2. How can we use along the way?

a. To discuss something that happens during a process

b. To be direct and formal about two events

c. To be casual about two events

3. When can we use to touch base?

a. To get or give a friendly update

b. When something is late

c. To give an extension on a project

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

This week on the blog I’ll introduce two more useful phrases. You’ll learn what they mean and read a few examples of how you might use them.

1. Along the way

We use along the way to introduce something that happened during a process. Sometimes it’s similar to while, but not always. Compare these two examples.

While I was in New York, I met several clients.

While I was preparing to begin construction, I learned about some interesting new options for finance.

In the first example, you might just say When I was in New York… It talks about a one time event. But in the second example, when isn’t best. We should say while because we’re talking about a process.

In a situation where we’re talking about a process, we can use along the way. Here are some examples:

I know you’re new here. You’ll need to do a lot of research before making your recommendations for the building project. Along the way, you’ll need to study about the new program as well. You’ll be busy.

It means that the person should focus on research, but at the same time study the new program.

Don’t get discouraged along the way!

This means that the process will be hard, but you shouldn’t lose confidence.

2. I just wanted to touch base

Use this phrase when you want to contact someone to see how things are going or report on your own work. It’s polite and casual at the same time. Here are some examples.

I just wanted to touch base and update you on my progress. Things are going good and…

I just wanted to touch base and see how you’re doing with the new client. Could you update me…

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

A, A, A

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You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

Writing Great Emails: Useful Phrases #1

Today’s

Vocabulary

(1) Extension: When you get more time to do something

We got an extension to finish because the raw materials arrived so late.

(2) Fast-paced: Moving quickly, with lots of things happening

Working on a television show is a very fast-paced environment. We’re always really busy.

(3) To avoid: To try not to do or see something

She’s been avoiding me all week. Do you think she’s angry with me?

Today’s

Questions

1. Which is NOT a way to use I’m good?

a. To say you’re satisfied

b. To say you’re free

c. To say you’re excited

2. Why would you say maybe that would be best?

a. You’re unsure what is best

b. You’re angry and want to delay

c. You want to accept but you feel bad

3. In the last example, why does the person feel bad?

a. The person is being unreasonable

b. He doesn’t feel bad

c. He’s late with a proposal

7________________________

Writing Great Emails

________________________

En-velop_bleu By Jeremy Schaar

This week on the blog I’ll introduce two useful phrases. You’ll learn what they mean and read a few examples of how you might use them.

1. I’m good

This means I’m OK or I’m satisfied. We can use it in a few different ways. One is to say that a time period will be OK.

Q: When are you available for a meeting?

A: I’m good after 3pm.

This means that before 3pm you’re busy. But after 3pm you have time and can meet.

Q: Do you need more evidence?

A: No, I’m good. We can move on.

In this case, I’m good means that you’re satisfied.

In either situation I’m good is very casual and direct. You can use it in fast-paced conversations, but should avoid it when you want to be more formal.

2. Maybe that would be best

This is a very polite way of accepting a suggestion.

Q: I think Susan has really done a bad job. Should we fire her?

A: Maybe that would be best.

We use maybe that would be best when, for some reason, an idea feels bad, but we want to do it anyway. In this case, the person doesn’t want to fire Susan, but thinks it’s necessary.

That’s a very serious example, but maybe that would be best can be used in less serious situations. For instance:

Q: You were supposed to email me the proposal yesterday, but I still haven’t received it. Would you like to change the deadline and send it to me next week?

A: Maybe that would be best.

In this case, the person feels bad because he missed the deadline. He’s ashamed, but he accepts the generous extension.

Want more practice? Got questions? Comment on the blog, Facebook, or Twitter.

CHECK YOUR ANSWERS!

Answers To Today’s Questions

C, C, C

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You Can Do It All Yourself But You Dont Have To

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