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How to Write Diplomatic Emails

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Diplomatic work emails are straightforward and polite, and strive to ensure that recipients don't misunderstand or misinterpret the information. When writing a diplomatic email, use formal, precise language and avoid emotional words. The goal is to use tactful language -- words that clearly relay important messages -- without causing bad feelings.

Set the Tone

Set the tone by focusing on how your ideas, messages or instructions will help your employees. Acknowledge any work-related struggles they're facing, such as technical problems or setbacks, and ask -- rather than demand -- when there's something you want or need. For example, if you're adding more staff to an existing project, write, "I know this project has placed additional stress on your team, so I asked Jane Doe to assist with the copy editing. Would you be able to provide her with a rough draft before the weekend?" Diplomatic language has a polite tone that attempts to put recipients at ease.

Keep It Professional

Avoid personal, confidential or sensitive subjects, such as salary information, personnel problems or internal conflicts, in a diplomatic email. Only discuss public matters, suggests Inc. magazine. Always address personal or confidential issues face-to-face, or by phone if a face-to-face meeting isn't possible. You never know when an email might get passed around the office. Use professional salutations and closings, so recipients know that the correspondence is work-related, not personal in nature. For example, start the email with "Hello," "Greetings" or "Good morning" -- not "Hey," "Yo" or "To my peeps."

Choose Your Words Wisely

Focus on "I" statements, rather than "you" statements, especially when you're addressing flaws, mistakes or corrections in an email. Explain your statements, so recipients gain a clear understanding of your goals and intentions. For example, if you want to send a company-wide email about the importance of meeting deadlines, write, "It's always been my goal to meet deadlines in order to maintain a strong customer support base. Timeliness and efficiency are two of my top priorities, so please contact me if situations arise that could lead to deadline difficulties."

Be Direct and Specific

Be honest and direct with your correspondence, so your co-workers don't have to read between the lines or second-guess what you're trying to say. Diplomatic language is tactful, concise and to the point. Remove excess words, thoughts or ideas that may confuse your employees or bog down your email. For example, if you want to address employee dress code violations in an email to teachers, write, "Please review the dress code requirements in the employee handbook. No shorts, tank tops or flip flops during school hours." Address the email to "all employees," so no one is singled out.


As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.

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