Written by Cassandra Miasnikov, Originally published at Buzzfeed.
Have you ever written something you thought was direct, only to be told later that your message was rude or abrupt?
Truth is, the length of your message may not have actually been the problem. Most people appreciate when someone reaches their point quickly. So, how do you stay efficient and appealing in your writing?
Choose Your Tone Wisely
What may have actually bristled your reader was your tone. It’s often overlooked, but tone can dramatically influence how your message is perceived.
If your girlfriend sent you a message that said, “We need to talk” you might go to the worst-case scenario. But if she rephrased it as, “Got time to chat?”, you might have a slightly smaller heart-attack. Notice the purpose of the message doesn’t change. It’s just the tone.
Different tones are appropriate for different situations. For instance, you might not use the same tone with your grandma that you would with your bestie over text.
When in doubt, read the message aloud, pay attention to areas where it sounds harsh, and adjust accordingly. Once you identify your personal tone, the rest will fall into place naturally.
Edit for Brevity
Many of us add extra words when writing to soften our tone or to make our message more thoughtful.
You should always have a first and final draft for any important piece of writing, be it a proposal or a personal bio. Once you’ve finished your message, go back and delete anything that feels unnecessary. Remember, you can still sound conversational without cramming your sentences with extra words.
Here’s an example:
First Draft: Thank you so much for thinking to invite me. I’m sorry to tell you that, unfortunately, I won’t be available to attend your upcoming event at the Plaza. But I was very excited about your invitation.
Final Draft: Thank you for thinking of me! Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend your event.
In most cases, smart punctuation can convey the same sentiment (excitement!) that would otherwise need an additional sentence. While both versions convey the same apology, the final version actually feels more conversational even though it’s shorter because it doesn’t feel excessive or fake.
Congrats, you finished your message! Well, almost. You want to end your message with a brief but warm closing.
In the spirit of concision, the traditional sign-off “I wish you all the best of luck” is shortened to “all the best” or even just “best”.
You don’t need a full sentence sign-off. Just take your pick from this list of common one- or two-word closings, in order from most casual to most formal:
If you’re truly wishing your recipient the best, it’s acceptable to use “Best regards” as a safe, universal sendoff. No matter which you go for, your closing should reflect your writing style, your relationship with your reader, and the content of the message.