Wrong Phrases In Your Email Could Cost You Your Job

Email is the most commonly used method for communicating with colleagues, says a study

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A traditional work schedule is incomplete without checking emails, one of the most used forms of communication at the workplace. Every employee should learn email etiquette rules because even a minor mistake could cost you your job. That's what a new survey suggests.


A 2018 annual survey conducted by the software company, and Canadian market and social research firm Advanis, shares the nine most annoying phrases people use via email. To reach this conclusion, researchers surveyed more than 1,000 white-collar American workers and discovered that the most-hated email phrase is "Not sure if you saw my last email" (25 per cent). That was followed by a list of phrases like "Per my last email", "Per our conversation", "Any updates on this?" and "Sorry for the double email".

New Zealand-based Vicki Walker learnt it the hard way. In September 2009, she was fired from her company ProCare Health after she sent an email in capital letters, and bold and red fonts, to help give colleagues instructions for filling out paperwork. While it was her way of clarifying instructions to colleagues, management saw it as confrontational, and asked her to leave.

The words you use in emails can make all the difference in how your personality comes across to the other person.

What to Avoid

It's always good to be humble, and close the email conversation, suggests Sharon Schweitzer, an international business etiquette expert, author, and the founder of global consultancy firm Access to Culture, in a 2017 Glassdoor blog post.

"By letting the recipient know that a response isn't needed, the email cycle doesn't continue on in perpetuity. Close with "No reply necessary,' "Thank you again,' "See you at the board meeting Tuesday,' or "Please let me know if I may be of further assistance.' End your email with a closing such as "Best,' "Best Regards,' "Sincerely,' "Thank you,' or another appropriate phrase," he explains.

The Top Choice

Effective workplace communication can contribute to the long-term success of an organization. Over the past decade, the way employees communicate at workplaces has changed significantly. From apps to open meetings, companies are taking a multi-faceted approach to promote effective communication.

The Adobe survey, however, finds that email (72 per cent) is the most commonly used method for communicating with colleagues, and is increasingly more likely to be used by older age groups and women.

Most employees check their work email outside of work, and personal email while at work at least every few hours. Younger workers are more likely to check personal emails hourly while at work, the study adds.

The bottomline: No matter what the hurry is, choose your words wisely.