9 Most Annoying Email Phrases

According to a 2018 poll by Adobe, these are the 9 most annoying email phrases. I was surprised because these are not the typical office-speak phrases of “let’s touch base” or “keeping you in the loop”.

Not counting ‘please advise’, eight of the nine phrases are all about following up. Each phrase reminds the reader of a previous email or in-person conversation which has not yet been closed.

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Why would someone be annoyed that I wrote these phrases in an email message? What is annoying about them?

There are two extremes when it comes to email. Those who bring their email to zero unread messages at the end of everyday by following up, responding or tossing each message that makes it through a stringent filter. And there are those who are chronically behind with an inbox of unread messages dating back to 2009.

For those who are diligent about email, they might be annoyed because the message assumes that we believe they are “just behind”. They take such pride, they are insulted at the suggestion. The second group is annoyed because they are embarrassed to be reminded.

But what about the sender? If we are afraid people will be annoyed at a request for follow up, what are we to do?

It is actually not an uncommon concern that “following up” might be perceived as being pesky or pushy.  If someone is late or fails to deliver a network contact, a letter of reference, edits to a document or their slides for a presentation, we often find ourselves wondering if we should send a note now, or wait another day-especially if it is a favor. Now this type of poll data just adds to our hesitation to send the reminder email message.

There is an easy way to avoid being perceived as annoying when you follow up.

Ask permission. When an agreement is made for another person to deliver something, agree on not only what they will deliver—also agree on when they will deliver, and set an appropriate day for follow up either as a reminder before the due date or permission to follow up on a day after the due date. Even if you initiate the message, it’s okay to indicate when you plan follow up. In this way, they won’t be surprised to get a second message on the same topic. Be reasonable and thoughtful when they are not able to negotiate the follow up date. When that day comes you will be a lot less hesitant to send that annoying email phrase.

Also remember that your urgency is not their emergency!