Office email.

It’s a minefield that’s punctuated by hidden emotions and passive aggressive politics. The beauty of it is that you can get away with looking like you’re engaging professionally, even though it’s masking something messier.

And we do so enjoy being messy, don’t we?

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m guilty of being a bit passive aggressive at times. In fact, one of my friends and I have a running joke about our use of the phrase “kind regards” and how we don’t even hesitate to drop the “kind” part the moment someone has done something to warrant treatment that calls for it.  

Granted the recipient might not always be aware that they’re on the receiving end of the petty treatment but what matters is that we get a lot of satisfaction out of it.

It turns out that this level of shadiness is nothing new. In an article featured on Refinery29, a writer on Twitter asked users to share a list of their favourite phrases to use when delivering a professional clap back and some of the responses were top notch!

Our favourites include the following:

“Please advise.”

This phrase sounds deceptively innocuous and in many cases is – particularly one where actual and genuine advice is needed – totally acceptable to use.

However, there are times when this phrase could be used as a means to imply that a situation – particularly one where there’s been a lot of back and forth emails being sent around - needs a solution and that the onus is on the recipient of this message to get their act together and sort it out.

It’s a combination of doubling-down on someone and subtly shaming them in the process.  

Friendly or gentle reminder

Corporate and professional speak for “Why isn’t this done yet?,” this mail is annoyance disguised as saccharine sweetness and is designed to make the recipient of the message feel guilty.

It’s a pretty effective method because it makes the sender look as if he/she is being perfectly affable when they’re delivering some shade.

Of course the argument here is that this email is allowed because it wouldn’t have been needed if what was required was done immediately but no workplace is perfect and sometimes things unintentionally slip through the cracks.

READ MORE: Networking for millennials: how to meaningfully engage with others

Per my last email

This one is straight up petty for “didn’t you read my last email, you fool?” and is sometimes accompanied with an extra dose of passive aggressive behaviour in the form of an attachment of all the correspondence that was originally referred to.

I’m not even sure if this counts as being passive aggressive since the message behind the phrase is only all too clear.

Going forward

I feel like this one might also be one of those emails that depend on the context but the general and broad sense that I get from this is that this phrase blatantly says, “what you tried failed on a colossal level, it’s time to do something else to improve the situation.”

Never a fun email to get, although I don’t always think that the intention is to be completely negative.

WATCH: Everything you need to know about email etiquette

Here are some of our favourite tweets about office email pettiness:


What are some of your go-to petty email responses? And which ones have you been on the receiving end of? Tell us and we’ll feature your answers in a follow up article.

Here's what you had to say about which one you've encountered most...

READ MORE: What the hell is hepeating? And is it happening to you?

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