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9 Trite Phrases to Stop Using in Work Emails (and What to Use Instead)

Published: Jun 10, 2019

My job requires me to send tons of emails: cold emails, follow-up emails, emails with reports attached, every type of email you can imagine. Sometimes, I cringe at how cheesy and insincere they look and sound; it’s difficult to write original, authentic, and cordial emails, and too easy to fall back on overused phrases. So here are nine insincere sounding lines I’m trying to eliminate from my emails—and why I'm cutting them out.

1. "Hope you are well."

With this line, I want to express that I care, but it can come across like I’m forcing a relationship. I can show more respect for my recipient’s time by making my request quickly instead of padding my email with this phrase.

2. "Can I pick your brain? "

This line says I need your advice but am nervous to ask for it. Anyone receiving this email knows I want their expertise for free; no sense pretending otherwise. I’ll leave out the platitude and come right out and ask for it.

3. "Just checking in."

Obviously I’m checking in, because I sent you this email. I want your attention and feel like you’re taking too long to give it to me. I’m just going to ask straight up for what I want.

4. "Attached, please find."

I’ve used this phrase for so many years that it’s automatic—which means it’s outdated and I need to stop. Also, it’s unnecessarily polite and formal. In its place I’ve started using, “I’ve attached the report to this message.”

5. "Wanted to touch base."

Unless I’m recapping the company softball game, I’m not using this worn out phrase anymore. Instead, I’ll make my request directly: “May I call you tomorrow at 1pm?”

6. "Sorry to bother you."

I’m not sorry. If I were, I would not send you this email. What I’m really sorry about is that you haven’t given me what I need and now I feel like I have to send you another email. I’m going to omit this passive-aggressive phrase from my email vocabulary.

7. "Please don’t hesitate to contact me."

I’m trying to be polite, but this is too polite. I sound stale and fake. I’ll stick with "please contact me" and include my contact information.

8. "Thanks in advance."

Which means: I expect you to do this. This phrase should not be sent to anyone who isn’t my direct report and even then, it smacks of giving orders.

9. "I’m circling back."

It’s the same as saying, “Sorry for the double email.” It conjures up pictures of vultures flying in circles over road kill. I’m going to stop hovering and put "Follow Up" in the subject line instead.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.