Like the rest of the world, Nigerians have replaced hard-copy memos and letters with e-mails. The average
person would rather send an email -whether personal or for official purposes- than type it out on paper. Unfortunately, emails can make
things go horribly wrong as certain words used can come off as haughty when the original intent was probably to sound proactive, efficient or even likable.
Communicating via email does not take away the need to stay careful in the choice of words as certain terms or words with meanings that can easily be identified when said in person- based on the speaker's facial
expression and tone- may sound completely different when used in
emails. For Nigerians who are not conversant with some of these
dicey words, Jovago.com, Africa's No.1 online hotel booking portal reveals the five most common.
This is the word commonly used to show remorse or regret, however, the word has been so overused that it is no longer taken seriously. In fact, some people consider it non-genuine and hardly acknowledge it. If you need to apologize when you have done something wrong, rather than say "sorry", use a phrase like "I apologize". "I apologize, it totally
slipped my mind" looks a lot better than "Sorry, I forgot!"
In a normal conversation, you can easily say something like: "No, it belongs to the company" with a soft tone that implies you are not being judgmental or acting superior.
However, in an e-mail, the "No" can make the same statement sound even condemnatory. Using the word "No" in an email can be very dicey, so it is best to just omit it and stick with the compliers.
Commonly used as sentence starters or transitional words in everyday communication, "Actually" can actually come off as condescending, as though you intend to correct someone or an idea. For instance, you could reply an email with the sentence: "Actually, I have to leave work by 5pm today" and It would sound extremely rude and combative. Actually has a way of turning a simple response into an awful one. Instead, use alternative.
"Thanks" is something almost everyone writes at the end of an email, especially when we are in a rush, however, the expression -which is a short form of "thank you"- is often considered sarcastic or unprofessional, especially when used in official situations. It is important to always use the full form of the phrase when writing e-mails.
The word "need" almost always comes off strong. Most times, using the word suggests that you place yourself in a position of authority, superior to the person receiving the message. Also, it sounds demanding. It may be preferable to use phrases like "I would like..."