Last month, Adobe published their 4th annual consumer email survey to assess the email habits of over 1000 workers in the USA. The results were full of interesting stats, but the one that’s got everyone’s attention is its list of “Most annoying phrases used in work emails”.
We’ve all been on the receiving end of one of these annoying phrases, and have probably used them ourselves on more than one occasion (come on, let’s be honest). On face value, these expressions are innocent-looking enough. But there’s an unspoken agreement that when any of these phrases appear in your inbox, they carry hidden meanings that go way beyond the obvious. Here’s what the 9 most annoying email phrases really mean (warning: you may discover some uncomfortable home truths):
“Not sure if you saw my last email”
Are you sure you’re not sure? 99.9%* of the time, this is a downright lie. What this actually means is: “I know you saw my last email. I know you ignored it. So I’m sending it again. I need a response. NOW”.
*not based on any evidence whatsoever.
“Per my last email”
Does anyone use the word “per” except to sound superior and slightly smug? “Per my last email” roughly translates to “I notice you haven’t responded to my previous email and want to point that out to everyone in this email chain with my legal-sounding speak”.
“Per our conversation”
Similar to the above, but with an added twist. “Per our conversation” is used when you’ve had a chat about something contentious and want to ensure it’s documented in writing. Just in case it all goes wrong.
“Any updates on this?”
Ah, the classic “I still haven’t heard from you about this important project so I’m going to chase you until it’s finished” line.
“Sorry for the double email”
If ever there was a better example of the “sorry not sorry” trope, we haven’t found it. This phrase is multipurpose, meaning either “I’m going to send you two similar emails to really hit the point home that I need a response”, or “I was so busy writing an essay in my first email that I forgot to add this important piece of information.”
The epitome of passive-aggression. “Please advise” is usually shorthand for “I’ve done my bit, now you need to do yours.”
“As previously stated”
Wait, maybe this phrase is the epitome of passive-aggression? You may as well have written: “I’m having to repeat myself because you’ve obviously just ignored my previous email”.
“As discussed” loosely translates to “I’m putting our conversation in writing so you can’t misinterpret what’s expected of you.”
“Reattaching for convenience”
A personal favourite. This is a polite way of saying: “I’m reattaching a file you claimed to have never received because it’s easier than having to root through my inbox to prove the exact date and time I sent it the first time around.”
A better way to share information and communicate
All joking aside, every one of these phrases shares something in common: a need for information, quickly. Everyone finds these email expressions annoying, yet so many of us use them. Surely this suggests that something needs to change to make information sharing more efficient.
Emails were never meant to be used as a communication or information sharing tool, yet the average worker spends over half their working day on emails. A more efficient (and much less annoying) way of communicating and sharing information is to use a tool that’s actually built to do just that – intranet software. Never again will you need to chase for an update, reattach files, or repeat what’s already been said, because all the information is easily accessible and traceable from your intranet.
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