In a Bad Mood? People Will Know It When You Use These 8 Words and Phrases

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Getting salty today?

If you are, try to avoid these words and phrases. They are signals to the recipient that you are having a bad day. What works better? I always say–explain the details. Email is a great format for going into a little detail about what you really want to say.

It’s important to skip the “code” word and phrases below that suggest you are in a bad mood because it’s too easy to misconstrue that as anger or even resentment. Don’t say “for future reference” but instead explain why you would want to make a change on projects that happen in the future and why it is so important to you. Instead of saying “unfortunately” skip that word and explain the bad news with more empathy and understanding. Try it on me with an email! I’m ready to listen.

1. Unfortunately…

I’ve mentioned this one before–it sounds dismissive and a bit rude. You can hear the anger loud and clear. (In person, you can use a tone that sounds more sincere.) It reveals you are in a bad mood because it’s terse and usually followed by some bad news.

2. For future reference…

This is a wrist slap. It’s basically a way of saying–hey, you screwed up, but make sure you don’t do that again. It’s often hard to remember that email does not have a vibe. Maybe you are saying the term in a light way or sarcastically. The recipient won’t know that. (By the way, I see this one shortened to “for future” a lot. It’s just as salty.)

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3. Regarding…


When you use a formal word like “regarding” it signals that you’re a little upset. Why is that? For most of us, email has become an informal mode of communication. We receive hundreds of messages per week. When you suddenly slip into the same tone a lawyer or an accountant might use, it makes it seem like you woke up on the wrong side of the bed,

4. In response to…

Once again, there’s that formal tone. For years, email was a bit more ornate. Then, something changed–it became more like instant messaging or a chat. Using a formal phrase like this makes you sound a little angry or upset, even if that’s not the intent.

5. Going forward…

Here’s a personal favorite of mine. It’s like you suddenly joined a fraternal order or became the captain of a ship. “Recruit, do this going forward.” It just sounds dismissive. If you’re the boss, it even sounds like the person is about to get fired.

6. Please advise…

Here’s another lawyer-like term. (By the way, you ruin the moment if you use “advice” instead of advise.) Why not explain a little more about why it is important to have the recipient share some more information with you? Or…try picking up the phone.

7. As we discussed previously…

Your email reminds the recipient that you talked. How can that be a bad thing? Well, most of us won’t read it that way. It’s dismissive because obviously the recipient knows you’ve talked. Why the reminder? In most cases, it’s because we like to act like the smart ones.

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8. See below…

Guilty on this one. I’ve typed “see below” with no other explanation. The problem is that it feels rude and abrupt. It forces the recipient to do the work. A better approach is to summarize an email or ask a question, triggering a response instead of acting a bit lazy.

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