These days, most business is conducted over email. Whether checking in on the status of a project, setting up a meeting with coworkers or interfacing with clients, email is the easiest and most common way to share information in an office setting. It follows then, that the way your professional emails come across matters almost as much as how you present yourself in person. After all, your email etiquette could be what makes the difference between scoring that dream job interview and getting stuck at the bottom of the pile. While some email correspondence rules are fairly obvious (never send messages in all caps!), others are less so. Plus, what’s de rigueur changes with the times. Now, certain once-required sayings are no longer necessary and can, in fact, make their writer seem out of touch.
In order to save you time and face, we tapped top experts in the field to find out which phrases are becoming obsolete.
1. To Whom It May Concern
“With access to all the information on the internet, it’s not difficult to find exactly who to address your email to,” says Diane Gottsman, national etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas. “It feels lazy and cold to receive an email that uses this term.” Try using a specific name whenever possible, and if you can’t, at least personalize your greeting to the company or team you’re emailing.
2. I hope this email finds you well.
“This is basically just filler,” says Gottsman. While it’s certainly good to send people your best wishes, it’s not necessary to include generic sentences like this one. If you actually know someone well enough to hope that they’re doing well, say something more specific as an opening. Otherwise, skip it and get straight to the point. No one is going to read an email and be offended you didn’t say that you hope they’re well.
[Related: How to Write A Winning Thank You Letter?]
3. Please do not hesitate to contact me.
“This sounds so cliché,” says Jacqueline Whitmore, etiquette expert and founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach. “The prevalent ‘please do not hesitate’ was a light, bright phrase when it was coined almost a half-century ago, but now it has fallen by the wayside. It also comes across as bland and impersonal. ‘Please call me if you have any questions,’ is polite without the cliché connection.”
4. Kindly be Advised or Be Advised
“Unless you are an attorney, this sounds threatening,” notes Gottsman. If you want to advise someone of something, just tell them! No need to preface it with language that makes them feel like they’re about to be the subject of legal action.
[Related: Don’t Rule Out These Common Resume Phrases]
5. Enclosed please find…
“This phrase, more than any other in the world of business writing, epitomizes the lawyer-like way people start to write when they want to avoid using a pronoun, like I”, says Whitmore. Plus, whatever you’re sending won’t be enclosed, it will be attached. “Instead, use something more conversational like: ‘I have attached my bio and headshot for your promotional materials.’” Even if you’re emailing someone more senior than yourself, there’s no reason to get overly official. Just be polite and direct.
6. Yours truly, Sincerely yours, and Yours faithfully
“You do not belong to the receiver,” notes Whitmore. “These closings are antiquated, but if you must use them, use them in extremely formal situations.” Sign-offs like Best regards, All the best, and Sincerely are better options.