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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

5 Super Common Email Lines That Make Us Cringe Every Time We Use Them

Sending emails can be surprisingly tricky. Not the literal act of sending, that’s one button, and it’s pretty basic. But actually writing those three or five lines always takes longer than it should. How do I start? How do I end? Where would this smiley face have the most impact? Probably right after the sentence in which I request that the person complete a huge project by an unrealistic deadline, right?

It’s these very questions that led me down the path that my wildly-naïve 22-year-old self promised I’d never go down—a path filled with cliché lines that don’t really mean anything. Phrases that I cringe every single time I type out. But, ugh, sometimes, there’s really no better way to add someone to the conversation than by typing “just looping her in.”

Since I know I’m not the only person out there who wishes there was a better way to end an email than with “best,” I rounded up the most common email offenders that you wish you never had to use again, plus a few alternatives for those days when the jargon’s getting to be too much.

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1. “Happy Monday!”

Or, alternatively, insert any other day of the week in there. The effect remains the same and you still want to die inside a little bit every you find yourself wishing it. Happy [blank] is for holidays, like your birthday or Christmas—not for a day of the week that comes around every seven days without fail.

What You’re Really Saying

“I’m about to ask you for something, but I feel uncomfortable diving right into it. So I shall say something kind and friendly instead.”

What You Should Say Instead

“Hope your week’s off to a good start.” Or, if the week’s way past started, “Hope you’re having a good week.” This still lets you get a vague pleasantry in (because sometimes diving in right away really isn’t the best strategy), but feels slightly less ridiculous when you read it back to yourself. After all, this is something you really would say.

2. Thoughts?

Similar culprit: “Does this make sense?” These are both questions commonly used to end emails that express big or new ideas. However neither of them really get to the heart of the question, because obviously the person has thoughts. They might not be good, or valuable, or worth sharing, but considering he or she has a brain, there are thoughts inside.

What You’re Really Saying

“I think this is a good idea or direction to move in, but I’m not sure. So here’s your chance to boost my self-esteem or completely destroy it. My entire mood rests in your response to this.”

What You Should Say Instead

What you’re really asking. I know, bold move! Being direct can be scary, but dancing around the topic oftentimes won’t get you the feedback you’re looking for. So, rather than saying, “Does this make sense?” ask, “Do you think this timeline fits into Ben’s vision for the project?” The answer might not be what you want, but it’ll get the response you need.

3. “Let’s Hop on the Phone”

What are we, rabbits? Also, it’s 2016, there’s no hopping needed to go to the phone. At any given time, my phone’s within reach. Between starting this sentence and ending it, I actually checked it no less than three times just to make sure I didn’t miss a beat.

What You’re Really Saying

“This is already turning into a lot of back and forth, and honestly, as much as I hate dialing numbers (again, because it’s 2016), I’d love to get this moving. Today. Now.”

What You Should Say Instead

Out of respect for yourself, just spell it out: “I think a quick phone call would help us make sure we’re on the same page.”

4. EOD, OOO, and Any Acronym

We’re all busy. So busy in fact that typing out words becomes too much. Why waste our finite finger energy on 10 letters when three will do the same trick? It’s wasteful when you think about it.

What You’re Really Saying

TBH, I don’t always know. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to turn to Google on occasion to decipher a tricky one.

What You Should Say Instead

It’s not so much what you should say instead, but where should you draw the line? Maybe one acronym per email? Two at most.

5. !

There are several times when I re-read my emails before sending and fear that I’m coming across as angry or unfriendly. So, in effort to make sure my friendly, chipper self comes through I throw on an exclamation mark, then another, and then a third for good measure. Suddenly I’ve gone from well-meaning to someone who is just as irrationally excited about the attached reports (report’s attached!) as I am about it being Monday (Happy Monday!).

What You’re Really Saying

“I mean well. I swear it! I’m just going about my job and asking for a few things I need, but I’m super chill about it.”

What You Should Do Instead

Similar to the acronyms, it’s all about holding yourself back. When you’re choosing where to place your enthusiasm, ask yourself, if was saying this aloud to someone, which line would sound the least ridiculous if I shouted it at the person?.

And there you have it, five lines I frequently use in my emails, despite the fact that I really wish I didn’t. Did I miss any? Do you have better alternatives? Tweet me and let me know.

Photo of annoyed person courtesy of JGI/Tom Grill/Getty Images.