Sorry, but … 

I just wanted to … 

I think that …

I’m not sure if …

What do all these phrases have in common? They all contain words that make you seem indecisive and unauthoritative.

In short, they don’t belong in a business email. If you’re in a profession like sales that demands you appear authoritative, writing wishy-washy emails is a huge no-no. Yet many of us insert these filler words out of habit or a desire to avoid appearing arrogant or harsh.

You’re not doing yourself any favors if your word choice doesn’t inspire confidence in your prospects, your colleagues, or your boss. It may not seem like a big deal, but we send and receive 121 business-related emails a day, and every missive you send is a piece of your professional brand. Would you rather appear submissive and unsure of yourself or confident and assertive?

We know old habits are hard to break. But luckily, there’s a new tool that does the work for you. The Just Not Sorry extension is a Gmail plug-in available for free in the Chrome Web Store, and dynamically highlights weak words and phrases as you type.

Here’s an example of the app in action.


And here’s how the email could be improved:


Whether you choose to accept Just Not Sorry’s advice or not is up to you. Better writing goes beyond simply deleting weak words and phrases, according to Tami Reiss, the app’s creator.

“The majority of times, you would actually edit [the email],” Reiss said. “You would make a decision and say, ‘Well, I don’t necessarily need to delete I think. I’m going to rephrase it so that it comes from a stronger place without coming off as too strong, because that’s probably why I put the I think there to begin with.’ ”

Hovering over underlined phrases will reveal a quote explaining exactly why it’s unadvisable -- providing a boost of motivation to correct your writing, as well as a fun dose of inspiration.


Just Not Sorry isn’t only useful for improving sales emails. Whether you’re practicing a pitch, a presentation, or planning to ask your manager for a raise or promotion, you can copy your text into Just Not Sorry and get immediate suggestions for improvement.

You can’t wake up one day and suddenly be a great email writer. It takes repetition and practice. Check out Just Not Sorry for an easy first step toward improving your writing.

Check out these other apps to improve your emails as well.

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Originally published Jan 13, 2016 12:00:00 PM, updated July 28 2017


Email Tools for Sales