We use email as the main mode of communication between colleagues or stakeholders on a daily basis. In fact, according to a global statistics report*, the average office worker sends about 40 emails and receives almost triple that number a day! Amidst the many emails, you may have come across some with phrases or words that inadvertently caused you to cringe (you might even be guilty of using some yourself!).

Here are some common phrases that set people off, and suggestions on what you can say instead.

1. "To be honest with you…"

Hang on…does this you were not being honest previously? Were you withholding information?  While your intention may have been to soften the impact of a blunt comment, it could backfire and create an opposite effect.

Try this: It may be better to leave this phrase out altogether and focus on telling things as it is.

2. "As mentioned before…", "As per my previous emails…"

It is used to drop an obvious hint that the recipient has missed something said previously and that you have to repeat yourself – passive aggressive much? Well, people receive an average of around 120 emails a day* so it is inevitable that they may have unintentionally missed something. 

 Try this: Go kindly. Showing patience in your replies will go a long way in it being reciprocated when you require it later on. However, if the recipient continues to have difficulty getting on the same page, then it might be best to give him a call. Not everything can be adequately covered in an email and a friendly phone call to explain things might be all you need to clear things up.

 3. "Sorry to bother you…"

 You say this wanting to sound polite but starting with an apology almost immediately puts you in a disadvantageous position by setting a negative tone.

 Try this: Go straight to the point rather than beat around the bush. If you are truly concerned about taking up the recipient's time, then cut to the chase!  

4. "You should…"

This phrase will no doubt make anything you say sound like a command. Worse, it may be misinterpreted as you being pushy or dismissive.

 Try this: Use "May I suggest you…", or "I recommend…" This makes your remarks read more like a friendly advice. 

 5. "Thanks for the quick turnover…"

 "Turnover" – are you referring to the delightful flaky pastry or the employee replacement rate? If you intend to thank your colleague for taking prompt action then this is the wrong term to use.

Try this: Use something simple like "Thank you for the quick/prompt reply."  

 6. "Please revert by…"

This is a common mistake. "Revert" does not mean "reply" – to revert is to "return to a previous state". 

 Try this: End your email with a simple and effective statement such as: "I look forward to hearing from you soon." 

 7. "Advice/advise"

Unfortunately, it is quite common for people to use both words interchangeably. However, that's not standard English. 

Advice is a noun that means a suggestion of what you should do. Example: "Let me give you some advice: use the paper shredder to dispose of confidential documents."

Advise is a verb that means to recommend what should be done, or simply "to give someone advice". Example: "I strongly advise you to avoid sugary drinks". 

 While it might take a while to get the hang of, and the recipient is likely able to discern between to two to know what you mean, it certainly puts you in a better light when you use the right word in the right context!

8. "With regards…" Vs "With regard to…"

 "With Regards," belongs at the end of an email where you sign off. If you mean "in respect of" a certain matter, then the correct phrase to use is "With regard to".


*Taken from the Email Statistics Report,2015 -2019 by the Radicati Group Inc. http://www.radicati.com


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