Words to Banish from Your Work Emails

Email

Do you ever wonder what working in an office was like before email? How did people get anything done? Wait, people actually talked to each other? These are all valid questions for anyone in today’s workforce.

It’s safe to say that email rules the working world these days, whether we like it or not. That means a lot of your work product depends on email—you could have entire interactions solely online, without ever meeting in real life. Basically, email holds a lot of weight these days.

So, besides making sure you don’t accidentally reply all to that company-wide notice, here are some words to reserve for your texts with friends.

Just

The word “just” is all too common in work emails. How many times have you said “Just checking in…”, “Just wanted to follow up…”, “Just seeing if…”? My guess is if you look back at the emails you sent this week you’ve used one of those phrases, or something similar, more times than you want to admit.

“Just” makes any phrase that follows it passive and minimizes the importance of the sentence. It’s a filler word that is used to soften whatever it is you’re trying to say. Don’t use it! Remove the “just” in any of your phrases and the sentence will still work, I promise.

Sorry

Similar to “just”, “sorry” is used all too often to make a sentence sounds less aggressive. “Sorry to bother you”, “Sorry for the double email”, “Sorry for….”. What you’re “sorry” about probably doesn’t actually need an apology.

Unless you made a mistake or caused a huge issue, it’s not necessary to apologize. Ditch the “sorry” and say what you want to say.

In that same vein, “sorry for the delay” is another unnecessary phrase. If you really owe someone an excuse for why it took you so long to respond to them, thank them for waiting instead of apologizing for your longer than average response time.

Touchbase (and other corporate jargon)

If I had one superpower it would be to remove corporate jargon from the world’s vocabulary.

“Touchbase”, “connect”, “take offline”, and the like are all passive phrases. Instead of asking someone to touch base on something, or if they have time to connect, or if they want to take something offline, propose a date, time, and place for you to actually have the conversation you’re emailing them about. It’s likely they will respond with either an acceptance or proposal for a new time. Regardless of the outcome, you’re a lot further along than if you kept it ambiguous. 

Happy XXX

You’re probably guilty of starting or ending an email with “Happy Friday!”. I know I am. And I’m not proud of it.

As with most phrases on this list, it’s a filler phrase that doesn’t lend anything to your email. Yes, you’re trying to be friendly before you get to the point of your note. That’s valid.

But instead of a throwaway phrase like “Happy Monday!”, ask how the recipient’s weekend was, or if they have plans for the upcoming weekend. Or better yet, weave in something from the last time you spoke. Maybe you know they recently went on vacation, took a long weekend away, or coached their kids in sports. Whatever it is, mention that instead of the generic and wildly overused “Happy Xday!”.

So, whether you’re an inbox zero kind of person or are just barely keeping your head above the email waters, leave these words out of your next email response.

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