5 alternatives to cliche email phrases

We’re all guilty of using the occasional email cliche—but as business and office life has gone increasingly remote and online over the past year, it’s about due time to start thinking about refreshing our email vocabulary and vernacular—because if we’re being honest here, most of your emails are probably not ‘finding’ the recipient very ‘well’ nor are all those mandated work updates coming ‘sincerely’ from your WFH set up.

Whether you spend your work days writing and responding to emails or your email correspondences are less frequent but still impact your work life, we’ve rounded up some alternatives to the classic email cliches that will help you freshen up your inbox while still sounding sincere and genuine.

From I’m just following up to let’s touch base, here are a handful of cliches to avoid—and what to replace them with.

Replace “I’m just following up” with “Can I get a status update?”

“‘I’m just following up’ is one of the most overused email phrases for workplaces,” explains Catherine Way, Marketing Manager at Prime Plus Mortgages. “The problem with this phrase is that it offers no urgency to respond!”

When you are following up with someone you should aim for a clear call to action. Give a timeline to respond, or remind the urgency of the project itself. Way suggests using something along the lines of ‘Can I get a status update on this please?’ will come as a suitable replacement.

Replace “Best” with “Stay safe” or “Be well”

“I’m not totally sure how cliche this phrase may be, but I think it’s time to retire ‘best’ as the email sign-off,” says Dana Case, Director of Operations at MyCorporation.com.

“During the COVID-19 pandemic, I and several of my colleagues have been using ‘stay safe’ or ‘be well’ at the end of our emails. These farewells are a bit more empathetic than a ‘best’ counterpart and express our feelings of goodwill towards others during this difficult time.”

Replace “Let’s touch base” with “Let’s talk”

“Unless you’re a major league baseball player, asking someone about touching base through an email is irrelevant and meaningless, not to mention terribly overused,” says Hosea Chang, Chief Operating Officer of Hayden Los Angeles.

Not only is it a vague filler phrase that doesn’t explain what you want to talk about, it’s open-ended and can be easily pushed to the side. 

Instead, Chang suggests using something actionable that lets the recipient know what you want to happen next, like, “Let’s talk on Tuesday about finishing the design plans.”

Replace “Per my last email/per our conversation” with something specific

Rather than forcing the recipient to try and sift through your email chain to find what you’re referring to, consider simply typing it out for them.

“Be specific about what you need now,” says Beth Collier, Communication and Leadership Consultant.

Something like “When we spoke on Monday, you mentioned you had data that I should include in my report. Could you send it to me by 2 pm Friday please?” is short, requires no effort on your end, but will save your recipient time.

Replace “Thanks in advance” with a simple “Thanks”

According to Collier, saying “thanks in advance” is presumptuous, and assumes the reader has agreed to whatever you’re asking.

You can say “thank you” (drop ‘in advance’)—but add a message of gratitude that shows the reader you value their time and input and be specific about your request.

Something like “I’d really appreciate your insights on this. Would you be available for a short call later this week?” will do just fine.