Email Etiquette: 15 Phrases You Need to Stop Using in Work Emails
Your inbox is overflowing with unread emails and the idea of opening one is filling you with dread — not because of the work it's going to add to your day or you have a feeling you already know the answer to a question you posed earlier but, rather, it's the annoying phrases your eyes are going to have to absorb for the umpteenth time.
Most of us are forced to read dozens of work emails on a daily basis, but the task gets even more laborious when the same phrases are in said messages often. Too often. Painfully often.
From the most annoying sign-offs to unnecessary words, we look at the most irksome of the bunch. And in case you're looking to change things up, we've come up with some suggestions you may want to use instead.
"I'll make this quick"That's like when someone says, "Can I ask you a question?" before asking a question. Just ask it already! So in the same vein, just get to the point and don't fill the email with unnecessary words.
Try this instead:Immediately address whatever it is you want to address with the person you are emailing. No build-up, no lead-in, no prefacing, just the nitty gritty.
Drop these terms from your vocabulary, stat!
"I hope this email finds you well"Sure, the intention is lovely, but it's another nicety that isn't required and is often glossed over. Skip the small talk and just get to the issue at hand. It also doesn't make much sense as an email can't find anything, much less anyone "well."
Try this instead:If an opener is really required, bring up a shared commonality or something fun from the past. If it's a new contact, mention a mutual connection. "Can you believe the score of the game last night? Unreal!"
"Not sure if you saw my last e-mail"A while back, Adobe conducted an online survey that revealed that white-collared workers get especially irritated when this phrase arrives in their inbox. The finding came, of course, after straight up being asked: what were the most annoying phrases people use in work emails.
Try this instead:Because everyone is busy, it's safe to assume people see our e-mails — but may not have time to actually respond. Consider a "bumping this up" or follow up with an ask, action item or deadline to prompt response.
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"Is that OK?"The question is clearly meant to be polite but it comes across as needy, almost requiring validation.
Try this instead:End strong. "If there are any questions or concerns, please reach out."
Just more office phrases that are annoying AF.
"As per"Whether it's "per my last email" or "per our conversation", people don't like sentences that start with "per". According to the Adobe survey, people find the use of this word especially irritating.
Try this instead:Don't point out you're repeating yourself, just say what you mean and deliver whatever message you're trying to without an awkward intro.
"Sorry to bother you"Nope, don't apologize. The intention is to be considerate of the recipient's busy schedule and, yes, time is valuable, but opening with that immediately makes you look weak and undermines your credibility.
Try this instead:Take a more direct and concise approach. "Please let me know when the deadline is."
"Going forward..."It's used to reassure the recipient that any mistakes that have been made up until now will no longer happen again. And while it's better than moving backwards, it's still redundant. It doesn't need to be stated — just show them you've got this.
Try this instead:Get right to the point and ensure they know you're referring to the now — not the past.
These common phrases don't mean what you think they mean.
"As previously stated"It's just a formal way of saying "I'm about to repeat myself!" This phrase alone isn't going to make someone suddenly care about what you're going to say.
Try this instead:If you think there's value in repeating whatever it is you want to say, just say it — and include a solid rationale. It's the "because" part that will prompt someone to pay attention. Let them know why they should listen to the previously stated.
Pro-tip: "Because I said so" is a garbage response so make sure you have something better than that.
"Best"Or the equally boring, "Regards." Or the ever-annoying "Cheers." Basically, signoffs that have been read and written a zillion times, so often that the reader doesn't even see it and the writer barely knows she's written it, it's that automatic. Be craftier.
Try this instead:"Congratulations again on [insert event here]" or "Hope your week's off to a good start."
Deciphering what these teen slang phrases really mean. (How old do you feel?)
"Let's touch base"Unless you're the manager of a baseball team, this saying should be banished from your vocabulary. It's a rather vague sentiment anyway and emails should always be crystal clear.
Try this instead:Be direct and take the initative. "I'll book a boardroom for tomorrow at 2PM."
"Be advised"Even with a "Please" at the beginning, there's something about this that still sounds vaguely threatening, so you might want to reel it in. Otherwise they might be on the lookout for a subpoena serving.
Try this instead:"Please let me know what dates works best for you."
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"Would be preferred"Pretty much anything in the passive voice literally reads as passive aggressive.
Try this instead:Just ask for what you need. Roll straight into your request and start or end it with a please.
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"Any updates on this"Seemingly polite follow-up email phrases like this tend to rub people the wrong way. It may seem inoffensive but it reads as passive-aggressive, according to the Adobe survey.
Try this instead:If you're chasing someone for something who is waiting for someone for something — just ask them to follow up. If they have an update, they'll give it to you — otherwise, you're also letting them know the next step.
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"!"OK, technically it's not a word but an exclamation point should be used sparingly because, let's be serious. No one is that enthusiastic in a work email.
Try this instead:A period will do just fine, thank you very much. (And, no emojis. Ever.)
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