The 11 work e-mail phrases that make you want to reach into your computer and punch someone

May 31, 2018
Tired, stressed businesswoman at laptop with head in hands

Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch

Work emails are the worst e-mails, aside from bank-balance e-mails, and flash-sale e-mails, and Do You Still Want to Be on This Zoo Membership Mailing List e-mails, and forwards from your 77-year-old dad e-mails, and you know what, all e-mail is terrible, why do we still use this? I don’t remember the last e-mail I was happy to get, except the one about the “Appetite for Destruction” Deluxe Edition, I guess. Regardless, work e-mails occupy a special and significant place on the roster of Worst Garbage You Deal With Every Day, partly because they’re about your pointless and soul-chafing job but also because they contain an unusual percentage of phrases that do not need exist! Here are some of the worst offenders, which we just wanted to send on, because at the end of the day we feel like all of us deal with them. Hope all is well!

Sincerely yours,

The Loop

1. “I wanted to…”

Example: "At the risk of causing confusion with our group board letter, which Roberta so helpfully wrote up, I wanted to start a separate thread."

What It’s Supposed to Say: “I have calmly and thoughtfully considered the situation I am about to bring up.”

What It Makes Us Think: Yes, I KNOW you wanted to do this. I ASSUME you’re writing because you wanted to, and that you did not compose this email at gunpoint. If you did, you should have written about that instead. It would have been way more compelling.

2. “Hope all is well!”

Example: “Hey good morning, hope all is well! I have the results of your syphilis test.”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “I’m welcoming you to this message with polite warmth!”

What It Makes Us Think: LIES. BLACK LIES. You don’t care about me, and you shouldn’t care about me, because if I passed you on the street while you were being mangled by a mob of rabid blackjack-wielding wolverines I would literally do nothing to stop it.

3. “Does that make sense?”

Example: “Hey, I need you to take this box of paper clips to Steve in marketing. Does that make sense?”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “Is my request clear to you?”

What It Makes Us Think: DO YOU THINK I’M STUPID? Unfold the paper clips and choke on them, you presumptuous twerp.

4. “It’s time for out-of-the-box thinking.”

Example: “Bring your best out-of-the-box thinking ideas to the meeting about establishing our brand trajectory and leveraging our core competencies to demonstrate our commitment to putting the customer first.”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “Come up with an idea so innovative and brain-shockingly genius that it will rewrite the future of human communication. Also do by 1:30.”

What It Makes Us Think: You’re out of ideas and preparing to steal ours.

5. “Full stop.”

Example: “I did not light the copier on fire, full stop.”

What It’s Supposed to Say: By referencing old-timey telegraph communications, the phrase “full stop” is designed to denote a definitive end to an argument. It’s also supposed to make you sound like a four-star military general when your job involves selling holistic dietary aids to the elderly.

What It Makes Us Think: You probably can’t do more than four push-ups.

6. “At the end of the day”

Example: “At the end of the day, our copier will probably still be on fire.”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “What I am about to tell you is a definitive and final statement.”

What It Makes Us Think: You know the sound Charlie Brown’s teacher makes when she talks? Whatever the word version of that is.

7. “I think we should sit down and…”

Example: “I think we should sit down and figure out why we’re seeing this transfer of $63 million to a ‘Charlie Peligroso’ in Caracas.’

What It’s Supposed to Say: “It’s time TO GET SERIOUS, PEOPLE. Get ready for SITTING.”

What It Makes Us Think: So we’re not doing this on the treadmills, then.

8. “Let’s unpack this.”

Example: “We just got the quarterly sales reports, so I think we should all sit down and unpack this. Does that make sense?”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “We have some incisive sleuthing to accomplish, people! The game is afoot!”

What It Makes Us Think: Do you mean discuss it? Because you could just say “discuss it.”

9. “I am a motivated self-starter.”


What It Makes Us Think: Not much, as we’re mostly daydreaming about punching your stupid face.

10. “Please do not hesitate to contact me…”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “Despite my esteemed station, you are welcome to return communications.”

What It Makes Us Think: Thanks for the permission, numbnuts. Will write you back in three weeks.

“Let’s jump on a call!”

What It’s Supposed to Say: “Calls are fun! Wheeee!”

What It Makes Us Think: This idiocy call will eat up a half-hour, deliver about 45 seconds of information, and be pathetically low on trampolines.