If you’ve ever sent an email that started with the words “Just sending a friendly reminder to please…” we have some bad news for you: It probably backfired. Not only are “friendly reminder” emails one of the annoying email habits you have, but everyone also secretly hates them.
To you, a reminder email could simply be “a non-confrontational way to ask for something that’s late,” Fast Company writes. But unfortunately, that might not be the message coming across to your coworkers. Translation? You need to quit this bad email habit and stop sending them immediately, and here’s why.
For one, you probably defaulted to “hedge words” such as “kind of,” “maybe,” “probably,” etc., which undermine your credibility with your coworkers. Although you might insert those phrases for a softer tone, they also make you sound insecure and unconfident. Be clear with your choice of words, opting for the straightforward “sending a reminder,” instead. Trust us, your employees will appreciate the directness—and brevity. (You’ll want to avoid these toxic phrases in your work emails, too.)
But that’s not even the worst part. It’s also easy for those reminder emails to get lost in people’s inboxes, if not ignored outright. With countless emails flooding in per day, yours could easily get lost in the shuffle. And if you sprinkle in extra hedge words, those emails will seem less important, too. All the more reason for your coworkers to hit the “delete” button.
Still, you need to get their attention somehow, right? After all, you have a job to do! Once you ditch the classic reminder email, try calling, IM-ing, or scheduling a 10-minute meeting with the person via calendar invite. Even resending the original email with a red “urgent” flag could do the trick. Doing so is practically guaranteed to get the message across—and still save face with your coworkers.
Need more email etiquette tips? Here’s how to avoid sending an embarrassing email by mistake.