You probably learned how to write formally when you were in school. When email became more popular, you probably wrote formally to your work colleagues and with clients. Today, there are more and more situations where it is completely acceptable and, indeed, expected, that you write informal emails. This is especially true when you know the person you are writing to and/or have communicated by email for a while.
One way you can reduce the formality of your emails is to do something you might normally never consider doing in your writing: dropping “I,” “I’m,” “You,” and “It’s.”
For example, try:
· “Couldn’t make it to the meeting yesterday. My kid was sick.”
instead of “I could not come to the meeting yesterday as my child was ill.”
· “Not sure if she got my last email. Haven’t heard back yet.”
instead of “I’m not sure she received my last email. I have not yet received a reply.”
· “Great job in the meeting today!”
instead of “You did a great job in the meeting today!”
· “Totally fine to turn in the report Friday.”
instead of “It is fine to submit the report Friday.”
In these examples, I’ve showed you that you can also reduce the formality of your emails by changing the words you choose. For instance, use “sick” instead of “ill,” or “kid” instead of “child.” Another change you could use is “got” instead of “received.” Using more common words helps your email sound more friendly and conversational.
So why would you want to use a friendly email at all, particularly in a business or academic context? Formality in the professional and academic spheres is important, yes, especially when you’re making contact with someone for the first time. However, you come across as more approachable and open when you use friendly emails.
People like to do business and correspond with people who are more relaxed and open in many English-speaking countries. So try to cut down on using subjects like “I’m,” “I,” or “It’s” in your emails, and watch your diction (word choice) to give the impression that you are easy to work with and a friendly person.