In 2018, Adobe conducted an interesting survey. They asked 1,001 people what they thought were the most annoying phrases used in work emails. Here are the results:

  • “Not sure if you saw my last email” – 25%
  • “Per my last email…” – 13%
  • “Per our conversation…” – 11%
  • “Any update on this?” – 11%
  • “Sorry for the double email” – 10%
  • “Please advise” – 9%
  • “As previously stated…” – 9%
  • “As discussed…” – 6%
  • “Re-attaching for convenience” – 6%

Most of these phrases aren’t just annoying. They’re passive-aggressive. (Especially the top four phrases.) They convey anger. And they can cause friction to develop between coworkers.  

If you ever feel tempted to use phrases like these, stop yourself. I know you might be feeling frustrated, and you want to get your work done. But it’s also important to maintain a good, solid working relationship with your colleagues. So instead of using these types of phrases, try taking a friendlier approach. Author Avery Blank suggests you do the following:

  • Restate the issue – Instead of writing something like “per my last email,” just restate your question. Don’t even refer to the fact that you’ve emailed about it before.
  • Add some valuable information – After restating your question, add a few additional pieces of information. This will serve as a justification for emailing a second time. And your coworker will benefit from being updated and fully informed!
  • Give your coworker a call – If you still don’t get a response, pick up the phone and give your coworker a call. You’ll get the information you need, and you’ll also have the chance to connect with your coworker. Not only will you be getting your work done, you’ll also have the opportunity to build and strengthen your relationship.

Blank, A. (2018, September 4). 9 passive aggressive phrases to avoid in email (and what to do instead). Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/averyblank/2018/09/04/9-passive-aggressive-phrases-to-avoid-in-email-and-what-to-do-instead/#36655f36126a

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