At some point, we have all opened a work email and immediately rolled our eyes.
Often, it’s not what a coworker is saying, but how they are saying it. A recent survey asked professionals what email jargon they found most annoying, and certain phrases seem to be unanimously hated.
The Most Annoying Business Email Jargon
Source: 2018 Adobe Consumer Email Survey
Why Are These Phrases So Irksome?
Do you recognize these common phrases? You might have received several of them, or even sent them yourself. While there’s nothing conspicuously rude in these phrases, they are often interpreted as passive-aggressive, artificially polite, or simply as vacuous buzzwords.
Relying on this kind of email jargon can distract from the message in your email. Here are some easy ways to avoid overused phrases so your reader can better concentrate on what you’re trying to say.
Not sure if you saw my last email / Sorry for the double email
These phrases passive-aggressively suggest your coworker is ignoring you. Chances are they read your email. They either had no time to reply or are still crafting the proper response. If they are ignoring you, it’s probably not on purpose.
It’s okay to send a follow-up email if you’re still waiting for a response. Try adding new information. New information serves as a valid excuse to reach out without seeming like you are nagging or micromanaging your coworkers.
Per my last email / Per our conversation
Yes, your coworker does remember your last email or discussion. Restating it as if they might lack the capacity to understand makes you sound condescending.
Other variations include “as previously stated” and “as discussed.”
All of these phrases are add-ons, so eliminating them from your email is as easy as crossing them out.
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Any updates on this?
This phrase can be hard to avoid. Afterall, checking for progress is an unavoidable part of every project.
However, some of your peers can see this as micromanaging.
If a coworker said they wouldn’t get to a report until next week, don’t send them daily progress requests. If they’re waiting on information from a third-party, ask them whether they’ve gotten a response instead to let them know you’re on their side.
If your coworkers have proven to be timely and responsible, trust them to get their work done on time.
This isn’t necessarily a passive-aggressive statement. Rather, the phrase sounds artificial because it’s not something the average person would say in casual conversation. It sounds pompous.
Instead, think of what you would say if you were asking for feedback from a friend. Consider the following alternatives.
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Some General Writing Advice
While it’s a good idea to avoid a passive-aggressive tone or empty buzzwords, the content of your message will always have more weight than your word choice. You want people to understand what you’re saying.
The best way to do this is to use simple words and short sentences.
If you focus on being a good communicator, people won’t remember the times you used cliché metaphors or annoying jargon. They will only remember your message.
If your email is clear and respectful, go ahead – press send!