7 overused phrases to eliminate from your work emails

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Email is a necessary evil in almost every workplace. Despite our attempts to optimize our time, it’s all too easy to spend hours mindlessly responding to and sorting out our inbox. And for those of us who struggle to leave work at the office, a quick check of our inbox on the weekend can easily become an unhealthy habit.

When we spend so much time firing off emails, we often forget the impact of our word choices. Language plays a major role in building perceptions of confidence and capability, particularly in a professional setting. Unlike texting your bestie or commenting on an Instagram post, crafting a great email is all about formal punctuation, articulate phrases and preferably no emojis.

To help you take control of your inbox, we’ve uncovered 7 commonly overused phrases that you need to ditch immediately to ensure you’re responding to your emails with authority and conviction.

Ditch This: “I hope you’re well.”

At first glance, this phrase seems like a friendly gesture to help build rapport. It seems like a chance to break the ice, humanize your communication and avoid coming across as ‘too harsh’. However, this overused filler sentence feels about as authentic as Spotify’s ‘Made For You’ playlist.

The problem lies in the ‘throw-away’ nature of this phrase. It’s a glaring cliche that serves no practical purpose in your communication. The secret to crafting personalized emails is to do just that, make them personal. Refer to anecdotes or stories shared in previous communications to show the respondent you’ve taken an active interest in what they have to say.

Say That: “How was your weekend away to the Blue Mountains? I’ve heard the walking trails around that area are fantastic at this time of year.”

Ditch This: “Sorry for the delay.”

Let’s face it, life is relentlessly busy. Juggling multiple projects and competing deadlines often means email responses can be slower than usual. However, it’s important to reconsider why you are apologizing for taking an extra few hours or days to send a reply. Starting an email with “sorry” immediately undermines your credibility and diminishes your sense of conviction. Remember, we all have a lot going on and you shouldn’t feel the need to apologize for taking time to respond at your own pace.

Say That: “Thank you for your patience” or “I’ve taken some time to consider my response”.

Ditch This: “Sorry to bother you…”

This one follows a similar vein and speaks to our desire to please others at the cost of our own authority. Requesting someone to provide information or asking a colleague to deliver a piece of work is part of their job, and you should never feel the need to apologize for that. In most cases, the respondent will appreciate your directness and will be more likely to address the question sooner.

Say That: “When can I expect X to be completed?” or “Can you please provide a copy of X document by X date?”

Ditch This: “Just checking in…”

For those introverts among us and those that shy away from conflict (myself included!), this phrase will feel all too familiar. When you are worried about hassling another person or being an inconvenience, it’s common to pad out communication with unnecessary sentences. By removing passive phrases, you’ll be able to get straight to the point in a way that is both polite and assertive.

Say That: “Could you please update me on the status of X?” or “Will you be providing X by COB tomorrow?”

Ditch This: “Sorry to bother you…”

This one follows a similar vein and speaks to our desire to please others at the cost of our own authority. Requesting someone to provide information or asking a colleague to deliver a piece of work is part of their job, and you should never feel the need to apologize for that. In most cases, the respondent will appreciate your directness and will be more likely to address the question sooner.

Say That: “When can I expect X to be completed?” or “Can you please provide a copy of X document by X date?”

Ditch This: “As per my last email…”

If you’re following up or reiterating a point, this phrase is probably one you’ve used many times before. However, this overused filler phrase only serves to put the respondent offside as they can feel they are under attack. Reconsider using this phrase and opt for more direct messaging that clearly states the point you are trying to get across.

Say That: “Are you able to assist with X next week?” or “Can you please provide a response by X date?”

Ditch This: “Let’s touch base…”

Have you ever felt as if your email communication is getting you nowhere? Maybe a client continues to forget deadlines for approval on a project or you’re constantly chasing a colleague for a meeting time?

Using this phrase only serves to add more ambiguity to your communication. To avoid confusion, make your questions specific and direct. If you’re looking to schedule a meeting, nominate the times or dates that suit you best and give clear deadlines for project delivery to ensure everyone is clear of expectations from the beginning.

Say That: “Are you available at 9:00 am on Thursday (X date) for a 1-hour meeting?” or “I will send through X by X date for review.”

Ditch This: “Happy Friday!”

As much you might be looking forward to the weekend, this phrase is one that can definitely be avoided. This generic phrase is so often used that it is often viewed as a meaningless cliche. Particularly when it prefaces a tough question or significant piece of information, this phrase serves to set the wrong tone for your communication altogether.

Say That: Actually, don’t worry about making small talk about the day of the week. Make better use of everyone’s time and just straight into what you need to say.

This article first appeared on A Girl in Progress.