What you see is often not what you get, and that’s also true for what you get in emails. What is written is often not what is actually meant—especially where some very common phrases are concerned. The next time you see one of these, think about what the other person might really mean.


1. “With All Due Respect...”

What People Really Mean: “That is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. No, scratch that. What you say once I get through flaming you will probably be even stupider. So cut your losses and shut up and listen—because you’re about to get schooled.”


2. “It’s Not About the Money”

What People Really Mean: “Oh, it’s about money. It’s always about money.”

Enough said.


3. “Let Me See What I Can Do”

What People Really Mean: “Hold on, let me check my schedule. Here we go. Looks like I’ll be available three days after never. But hey, I really appreciate the fact you think of me as someone who might actually want to help you. I’m touched. Really. So thank you for that.”


4. “Just In Case You Missed This...”

What People Really Mean: “You didn’t miss it. You immediately deleted it and for all I know laughed like a demon when you did. So I’m trying again. And I’ll probably keep trying until I get some kind of response. Or until you die. At this point I’m basically cool with either.”


5. “I May Be Wrong...”

What People Really Mean: “...but I know I’m not, I know I’m absolutely right, and I wish you would simply accept it and shut up instead of making me pretend we’re going to agree or collaborate or, worst of all, that I’ll in some way change my opinion. Because I won’t. Ever.”


6. “Seeking a Little Closure...”

What People Really Mean: “I’m so sick of dealing with you I’m going to try one last time to put this situation to bed. If we can’t, I’m going to seek a LOT of closure. Like reprimanding you. Or firing you. Or—and trust me, this is no idle threat—even taking away your social media privileges.”


7. “I’m Just Following Up...”

What People Really Mean: “I’m not ‘just’ following up. I’m following up like a big dog. Seriously—you can’t take two seconds to respond? At this point even a, ‘No, hell no’ would be less rude. But I can’t say so because I really do need something from you. (And boy do I hate that.)”


8. “Let Me Know If There’s Anything I Can Do For You...”

What People Really Mean: “But do the polite thing and don’t ask because there’s no way I’m actually going to help. We’ll both be a lot better off if I pretend to care and you pretend you believe I care. Works for me!”


9. “Cheers!”

What People Really Mean: “Signing off with a ‘Sincerely’ or ‘Best’ or ‘Regards’ is way too conventional. ‘Cheers,’ on the other hand, sounds cool. And posh. Kinda cosmopolitan. Even European. Or Australian. Wait. Isn’t Australia in Europe?”


10. “Thought I’d See How You’re Doing...”

What People Really Mean: “I really hope you’re doing great because I need something from you. Badly. But I’m not going to admit it. I’m just going to pretend I happened to think about you because you mean so much to me. Maybe you’ll even think I missed you. And then I’ll spring my trap!”


11. “Quick Favor.”

What People Really Mean: “It won’t be quick, it’ll be much more than a favor, but I’ll suck you in by calling it a quick favor and you’ll feel like a jerk if you refuse—so you lose no matter what. Ha!”


12. “Ha!”

What People Really Mean: “I can’t use LMAO because you’ll think I’m 12. I can’t say ROFL because you’ll think I’m 8. So I’ll use ‘Ha!’ Even though you aren’t funny—but I’ll go that far to in some small way make you feel like you are. Now can we please get back to talking about me?”


13. “This May Come As a Complete Surprise To You...”

What People Really Mean: “I’m hoping you’re stupid enough to think you just inherited $5 million from a long lost uncle and all you need to do is send me a few personal details and an infinitesimally small by comparison processing fee compared to the windfall you’ll receive and I will send you the funds immediately.”


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Photo of person writing email courtesy of Shutterstock.