These Are The 6 Phrases You Need To Cut From Your Work Emails

Ahh, email. What was once a novelty in the days of dial-up internet is now the bane of our professional lives. With the average worker receiving a whopping 88 emails per day, you’re now more likely to drop your workmate a line than walk a metre across the office to chat to them.

Yep, that little mail icon on our desktops is both a blessing and a curse. Sure, it allows us to have an answer from someone across the globe within a matter of minutes — but it definitely has its downsides too.

Not only can your overflowing inbox be a major productivity sap, it could also be the reason you got passed over for that promotion! More specifically, the contents of your ‘sent items’ folder could be to blame. “What, so that hilarious video I sent my boss of the cat playing the keyboard is the reason I didn’t get promoted?” you may ask. Not necessarily (it depends on whether your boss has a sense of humour). But much like words uttered out loud in the workplace, including certain phrases in your emails can prevent you from being taken seriously.

 So, if you’re keen to get ahead in the workplace, here are the 6 annoying phrases you should ditch from your email vocabulary ASAP.

#1 Hope you’re well!

The New York Times announced last year that this phrase was officially over and we’re inclined to agree. While it seems like a polite way to open an email, the problem is that it’s used so often that it’s lost all meaning. If you do genuinely hope they’re well, find a way to personalise your greeting. Otherwise, kick it to the curb!


Unless you’re talking to your significant other (which is best avoided on work email!), XOXO is never appropriate. In an article for Business Insider, business expert etiquette Barbara Pachter explains that its actually the hugs (not the kisses) that make this greeting so unprofessional. She says that while single ‘x’ is fine for people you have a ‘pre-existing close relationship’ with, anything more is a no-go.

 #3 Sorry

While Justin Bieber may be a fan of this word, most business etiquette experts are not. Much like IRL, saying ‘sorry’ in your emails conveys a lack of confidence. It can also make you look guilty when you actually haven’t done anything wrong! Most of the time, people use ‘sorry’ in emails when they’re explaining why they can’t do something — in which case, an apology is unnecessary. If you really have done something worthy of an apology, best to pick up the phone or do it face to face.

#4 Did you hear about X?

It goes without saying that gossiping on your company email is never a good idea. However, it’s easy to forget and let a snarky comment slip through the cracks. Keep in mind that most employers have access to their employee’s work email accounts. Gabbing about your coworkers not only looks unprofessional, but it can also land you in hot water. Plus, as anyone who’s accidentally sent an email about someone to that person can attest, it’s not a fun time. If you really must tell your work wife that Rita from Accounts is hooking up with Barry from IT, do it in person (in private.) 

#5 Can I pick your brain?

Firstly, this phrase conjures a rather grotesque image. Unless you happen to be a neurosurgeon, you most certainly should not be picking anyone’s brain! Secondly, the phrase generally implies that you want to take up the recipients time without offering anything in return. It’s most commonly used in networking emails, when someone is requesting a meeting with a potential mentor. A far more effective way to go about it is to invite them out to coffee and explain how the meeting will be of mutual benefit. It’s a two-way street!

#6 Hopefully

How many times have you told your boss that you’ll ‘hopefully’ get that report done by 3pm? While it may seem like a good way to cover yourself if you don’t manage to finish it by then, it can come across as vague and unreliable — not exactly what you’re aiming for! The same goes for ‘try.’ As the wise Yoda once said, “do or do not, there is no try.” You’re better off giving yourself a wider buffer with your deadline and making sure you deliver.


Emma Norris is a Sydney-based freelance writer and the owner of copywriting business, Content in the City. When she’s not playing with words, she’s either doing pushups or stuffing her face with pizza. You can follow her on Instagram @emmajnorris92