In the world of office email, there are certain words and phrases that are no brainers not to mention or discuss; office gossip, religious views, and political chatter are obvious topics that should be off-limits. However, what most employees don't realize is that there are other phrases that should also be avoided.
One of the most common overused unprofessional email phrases is the dreaded "per my last email" language. This phrase not only reeks of being passive-aggressive, but makes you appear unprofessional, and comes off like you are passing blame for an issue or project that has stalled. Eventually, this email tone can lead to strained co-worker relationships and a toxic work environment. Next time you have to follow up on an issue or project, rather than using this type of language in your email, here are some suggestions from Dana Hundley of "The Muse" that you should do instead.
Be Direct and Repeat Exactly What you Need
In your follow-up email just be straight to the point and repeat the question you were trying to make. However, include exactly what you need from them? Why you need it? And when you need it by? Being direct makes it clear of your exact needs without including language that usually comes off as annoying or disrespectful of the recipient's time.
- " To stay on schedule, I need your input by [Date]."
- " Let me know if we should do [Option 1] or [Option 2] by [Date]."
Approach Them Directly
Sometimes the easiest way to get the answer you need is to approach the person directly, if possible. If they are not in their office, or at a different location, give them a call. This not only avoids the awkward email exchange but you can get the answer you need fast. If you want to make sure the communication is in writing, you can follow up after with an email about the discussion you had.
- "Glad we were able to speak on [the project or question at hand], just wanted to confirm our plan in writing."
Get the Reader's Attention with a Question
Starting an email with a question has the ability to grab the reader's attention and get the feedback you need much quicker. This is a good tactic to use when you haven't received a response from your original email. Switching up the approach can provide you with the direct answers that you need.
- "Will you have time to review or complete [the project or question at hand]?"
- "Do you want to meet up to review [the project or question at hand]?"
The whole point of a follow-up email is that you need something done. The key with these emails is to find a balance of sounding professional, while also being patient and understanding. Email has made communication faster, but it also has become an intricate and oftentimes difficult art form because of the lack of ability to decipher tone and the emotions involved in the writing. However, when you master this craft, not only do you have a better shot of getting the answers you need but getting them quickly while maintaining strong coworker or client relationships.
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