Know that when you email me, I will be silently judging you. And if you do any of these things, the judgement won’t be kind.

(If nothing else, this post should radically cut down the amount of email I receive.)

“Please advise”

At some point over the last couple of years, this odd phrase has crept in as the standard way to ask a question or request some kind of action.

“My password isn’t working. Please advise.”

“Please advise how I can work with you.”

“I would like more information about such-and-such. Please advise.”

I find this infuriating because:

  1. You would never say this out loud to another person. So why write it?
  2. It’s so vague, it puts all the emphasis on the recipient to work out exactly what kind of response you want.
  3. There are lots of more friendly or specific ways to ask for something: “Can you help?”, “Could you let me know?”, “Would you mind looking into this for me?”, “Could you reset it for me please?”, and about a million more.

My hunch is that it’s taken off because it’s both quick and lazy, yet somehow “sounds professional” (see “Yourself / Myself”).

“Yourself / Myself”

The first time I heard someone use “Myself” in the context of “It was myself who did that” was on the BBC show The Apprentice many years ago, and it stood out as being a thoroughly ridiculous use of language.

As far as I can tell, this madness originated in the UK and has recently spread to America. Now, it’s mainstream to the point that soon I’m sure dictionaries will be changed to recognise it as correct usage.

For now though, it’s not. “Myself” isn’t a posh way of saying “Me”. It’s a word you use in a few specific situations, such as when describing an action being done by you to you (like “I wash myself”).

Saying “Please reply to myself” isn’t “professional”, it’s wrong: you mean “Please reply to me”.

Saying “we require some information from yourselves” is also wrong. You mean “we require some information from you”.

There aren’t many situations where the correct usage is “myself” or “yourself”, so if you don’t worry about the difference and just use “me” and “you” all the time, you’ll be right far more often than you’re wrong.

“I hope you’re well”

And its doubly irritating sibling, “I hope your well”.

You don’t. And if you did, you could find a more creative way of conveying that sentiment. As it is, it just sounds like pointless filler. As does…

“I am writing to inform you that…”

I know you are: I’m reading it right now. Just get to the point!

I’m writing to inform you that your account has been closed”

Same meaning, fewer electrons bothered.

My “Enter” key appears to be broken

It should be pretty obvious that reading
a message when the entire thing is
just in one giant block of text is
a lot more difficult than it needs to be.
There may be a question buried in here
somewhere. There might be an important
message telling me I’ve won the lottery
for all I know. I’ve already given up trying.
Honestly, how difficult is it to break up ideas
with a paragraph break every now and then?

What are your email peeves? Email to tell me, if you’re brave enough.

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2 thoughts on “Email peeves

  1. Hi Rob,

    I hope your well! No seriously, I agree with your peeves. I confess I am guilty of the “Please advise”, but only in things like support tickets, and the “I hope you’re well”, which you could think of as the email equivalent of “How are you?”, but I will try to be a bit more original in both cases.


    1. Thanks Maarten! I have to admit to the occasional “I hope you’re well” when I don’t feel inspired…rules are meant to be broken!

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