The Four Phrases You Should Never Use In A Work Email

Don't let these common mistakes stop you from getting ahead.

Sure, we all know the obvious rules about what not to say in the workplace and in professional correspondence, but did you know that there are many more ways you can lose a deal or ruin a relationship with just the language you use?

According to a recent study by business etiquette experts, while there are many hidden minefields in work emails, the beginning and end is where most people struggle with their tone, despite this being the most important part of any communication. As US-based business expert and author Barbara Pachter explains, the key thing is to strike the perfect balance between formal and friendly, without seeming too stiff, or overly relaxed and casual. She says that while opening an email with 'Dear Sir or Madam', for example, is often perceived as being far too proper, and can therefore be off-putting to the recipient. 'This salutation tells the recipient you have absolutely no idea who they are,' she claims, explaining that it may leave the reader feeling like a complaint or something negative will follow. So how to open an email? Pachter suggests that the perfect way to start a professional email is to keep it simple but respectful. Opening your correspondence with with, 'Hi' is be a good starting point Ms Pachter claims, or, if you want to make things slightly more formal, she suggests beginning with 'Hi [person's full name]'.

Melbourne-based workplace expert Karen Gately also warns of watching ones language in communications, warning off any slang phrases or colloquial greetings and if in doubt - to just be yourself and write with sincerity.

So, onto the main event, which are the four phrases to avoid at all costs?
  • Yours Sincerely

Although a formal sign-off, experts warn that this is nowadays considered outdated and overly formal.

  • Yours faithfully

Again, overly formal and has no place in day to day email correspondence.

  • Ending with x's

Unless you are writing to a close friend, experts agree that kisses have no place in a work email - even if you know the recipient well.

  • Ending with Thanks

Ending an email with simply 'Thanks' and nothing else can seem aggressive and standoffish, according to business experts.


Written by
Poppy covers a wide range of topics at Billionaire, having spent the past 13 years at companies including Singapore Tatler, Her World Plus and Harpers Bazaar UK. She has a passion for fashion, jewellery and travel as well as an avaricious fascination with crime novels. Follow her at poppypskinner on Instagram.

More Like This:

Recommended for you:

BLLNR (Billionaire) is a platform for Entrepreneurs, Business Leaders and Creatives in Singapore.

Join Our Newsletter