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Published On: Sun, Sep 10th, 2017

How to avoid writing irritating emails

After a conversation about subtly snarky emails went viral on twitter, it might be worth asking yourself: are you being accidentally rude?

A couple of weeks ago, Danielle René caused a stir when she tweeted her preferred method of subtly putting someone down in the workplace by email: using the simple phrase “per my last email.” Alongside her favourite passive aggressive clap back, the Washington DC-based writer and marketer asked her followers to share theirs.

The results were eye-opening, with the post going viral as hundreds of people chimed in to share the seemingly innocuous phrases they use in emails when they want to deliver a verbal swipe. But often, we employ irritating phrases in our emails inadvertently.

If you’ve sent a well-intentioned email that elicited a curt response, you may well be guilty of this common pitfall. From “as you are aware” to “please advise”, the Twitter responses revealed email exchanges to be a social puzzle, where using the wrong word or phrase at the wrong moment can easily cause offence or annoyance.

Email communication “is a minefield because you don’t see how people are reacting”, says Deborah Tannen, professor of linguistics at Georgetown University in Washington DC. When it comes to using email at work, there are right and wrong ways to make your point and get what you need, without being misinterpreted or upsetting someone. Here are some of the key dos and don’ts


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