Striking the right tone in workplace correspondence is often easier said than done, according to an etiquette list currently circulating on social media.
The post, which first appeared on international entertainment website 9GAG, reveals the phrases that most infuriate office workers, with ‘per my last email’ and ‘just checking in’ named among the worst offenders.
‘Thanks in advance’ was also slammed as meaning ‘I’m already thanking you for doing me this favour, even though you haven’t yet agreed to it’, while ‘I see your point’ is widely regarded as a thinly veiled way of saying ‘You can express your opinion but I don’t care’.
And with email named as the preferred method of communication for office workers in a 2018 survey by Adobe Software, it’s never been more important to hone your digital messaging skills to avoid miscommunication and malaise with colleagues.
– Greet the person
– Use the recipient’s name or names, if there are fewer than five people in the email chain
– Always check for typos
– Respond within a reasonable timeframe
– Use offensive, gossipy or provocative language
– Click reply all – remove those not directly involved in the conversation and put those who should stay in the loop in ‘copy’
– Use emojis or slang terms in professional messages
Email tone should be aligned with your personal and professional brand, avoiding casual and overly emotive language which is easily misunderstood outside physical conversations.
If you made an error and need to communicate this over email, Ms Lambert-Burnet advised writing a simple ‘sorry’ rather than ‘I made a mistake’.
Ensure the recipient understands what is being asked of them by saying ‘let me know if you have any questions’ instead of signing off with ‘hopefully that makes sense’.
How to sign off a professional email
1. Best wishes
A good blend of friendliness and formality makes this sign-off a safe bet, but be aware of its greeting-card vibe.
A study recently rated cheers as the most likely sign-off (that isn’t a thank you) to get an email response. It works well if your email is friendly and conversational.
Best conveys best wishes in a cheerful, pithy way. If you get a lot of email, you know that nearly everyone uses this sign-off. The downside is that it can be safe and dull.
These are seen as stodgy and formal and should only be used in professional emails.
What NOT to use
‘Love’, ‘Thx’, ‘Take care’, ‘Looking forward to hearing from you’, ‘Yours truly’, ‘Respectfully’, ‘Have a blessed day’ and ‘Sent from my iPhone’.
It’s best to use a pleasant ‘always happy to help’ instead of a more informal ‘no problem’ or ‘no worries’.
Slang terms more suitable to social media platforms like ‘LOL’, ‘OMG’ and ‘BTW’ should never be used in workplace messages.
Words like ‘maybe’, ‘perhaps’ and ‘just’ which create a sense of uncertainty or lack of confidence should also be avoided.
So what DO they really mean?
Phrase: Hope this helps
Means: Just stop bothering me
Phase: I see your point
Means: You can express your opinion but I give zero f****
Phase: As stated below
Means: You need to read the entire email chain, not just the top two lines because your dumb question has already been answered
Phase: Kind Regards
Means: F*** you
Phase: Moving forward
Means: Stop wasting my time and just let it go already
Phase: Let me clarify
Means: You completely misunderstood my last message, you idiot!
Phase: Per my last email
Means: You better re-read the whole thing again so you won’t ask me stupid questions
Phase: Thanks in advance
Means: I’m already thanking you for doing me this favour, even though you haven’t yet agreed to it. Therefore you must do it.
Phase: Sorry for being unclear
Means: No I wasn’t. Obviously you didn’t really read what I wrote. You need to pay more attention!
Phase: Just checking in
Means: I’m going to keep sending you emails about this until you respond