The Top 5 Useless Phrases In Emails


*Yawn* Phrases in Email Correspondence

According to a study conducted in 2011 by The Radicati Group Inc., the typical corporate email user sends and receives about 105 email messages per day. That is a lot of ‘commercial noise’ in a user’s inbox.

How does a business ensure that important emails are read and not deleted?

By applying the rule, keep it short and simple. This means pruning out the many useless phrases that thrive in business emails.

Emails have become an extension of our thoughts and communication. The modern email user will write an email and press the ‘send’ button before checking if the contents are correct. This is understandable in a world of I-have-no-time. The problem with this approach is that there is no ‘face’ to the email and the email could create a negative perception about your company. Spelling errors and overused phrases can spell commercial disaster. It conveys the perception that your business is unprofessional, rushes through everything and that the use of correct language is not important.

It is time to examine your emails. Do your emails let you and your business down?

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The Top Five Useless Phrases in Emails

  1. I think … When a sentence begins with this phrase, it tells the recipient that you are unsure about yourself. Your tone must be assertive and confident.
  2. Please be advised… People often use this lawyer-type phrase. It is unnecessary. Be direct. If you are informing a debtor that payment is overdue then state the obvious. ‘Your cheque is overdue’ is to the point and unpretentious.
  3. Please do not hesitate to contact me … People will contact you if they are interested in your product or have a query. This is an irritating cliché used in emails. The message you are sending out is that you are not an original thinker.
  4. Kindly … ‘Please’ works better than this old-fashioned word.
  5. Enclosed please find … or Attached please find… People tend to use these phrases because they are neutral and the user avoids using the personal pronoun ‘I’. They are also archaic. The word ‘find’ shows a lack of confidence. It is also impossible to enclose anything in an email. Rather say: I have attached…

Do not allow unnecessary words to taint your clients’ view of you or your business. Phrases are useless communication ‘fillers’, rather like small talk. And, who has time for that?

Tell us which phrases annoy you the most in the comments section.

 by Ulrike Hill

Ulrike is a ghost writer and the author of two books. Ulrike Hill facilitates creative and business writing courses for Writers Write. She also lecturers English and Communication Science at Varsity College.

Follow Ulrike on Twitter and Facebook and visit her LinkedIn profile.

This article has 0 comments

  1. Dan Garrett

    At this point in time….

  2. Su

    This one doesn’t annoy me, but it is a filler: “As you know” or “as you may know.” One of my coworkers puts it into every email he writes for us to send out, and I edit it out every time. I finally told him, “If we think they know, we don’t need to write it down again, and if we think they don’t know, we should just tell them. There are better transition phrases.”

  3. Sheryl Reese

    I don’t know. I like to say “Please see attached”…but then I use that phrase because I intend to be polite. I prefer to ask the reader rather than demand.

  4. Kim

    Oops. I am guilty of #1, 3, and 5. Thanks for the not so subtle reminder to knock it off. Fortunately I don’t send a lot of email during the day or week but these things have appeared in quite a few messages. I will certainly be more conscious of what I write in the future.

  5. Audrey

    People use niceties for a reason. This is very much a cultural issue and should be used with sensitivity. Please find attached – tells people who may not have seen it that there is an attachment. This can easily be missed with ever changing email UIs or accessing messages on mobile devices. As with all writing, you should always temper what you say with knowledge of your audience.

  6. LilahJ

    Wow, pretentious. Some of these are just courtesy. I always write something like “Please do not hesitate to contact me” because it is nice. Also the please see attached is courteous. Ms. Hill do really think that if I were to correspond with customers without adding little courtesies that I would be perceived as cold? Perhaps you are annoyed by these little things or believe you are above them. I shall continue to use them, and continue to successfully and professionally work with people.

  7. Rae

    I will be out of the office until … Some people return on the date they write in and some the day after. I prefer … I will be out of the office through Friday, …, followed by the date. I usually end my professional emails with … Please contact me with any questions or concerns.

  8. Robert Underwood

    Two Rules I learned from a writing course I took in the army:
    1. Active voice conveys decisiveness and responsibility. Always use active voice when writing about a decision you made, or an action you took. Don’t say “A decision was made.” Say “I decided.”
    2. Use passive voice to avoid casting blame. Even when it is clearly the other person’s fault. Don’t say “you screwed up.” Say “mistakes were made.”

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