17 Passive Aggressive Email Phrases, Translated

17 Passive Aggressive Email Phrases, Translated

Sometimes you’re going to feel stressed at work.

Whether that’s for personal reasons, or work-related reasons, it’s inevitable.

And due to that, sometimes we “lash out” using a little something called passive aggression.

This way, we still seem professional, but can get a point across.

I’m sure we’re all guilty of using these phrases at some time in our careers, but here’s what they really mean (or at least come across as):

1. “Per my last email”

Translation: We’ve already discussed this, read your emails properly.

2. “Going forward, I would prefer that you…”

Translation: You messed up. Don’t do it again.

3. “Reattached for your convenience”

Translation: I’m not going to redo work for you. Stop being lazy.

4. “As no doubt you are aware…”

Translation: You know this already, and denying that will now make you look stupid.

5. “Please advise”

Translation: Are you going to get back to me?

6. “Do let me know if I misunderstood…”

Translation: Excuse me, but I’m pretty sure I understood.

7. “Correct me if I’m wrong…”

Translation: I’m not wrong. You said what you said, stop backtracking.

8. “Apologies for my delayed response…”

Translation: I’m snowed under with important stuff, this is not one of those things.

9. “Any updates on this?”

Translation: Can you hurry up?

10. “Thanks in advance”

Translation: You don’t have a choice.

11. “Just checking in…”

Translation: Politer way of saying: “Any updates on this?” (see number 9)

12. “I know you’ve probably had ten of these emails so I’ll get straight to the point…”

Translation: I’m sending the same email to thousands of people, your reply would be appreciated.

13. “Let me clarify/Apologies for being unclear”

Translation: I’m not sorry. A  five year old could understand this.

14. “:)”

Translation: You’ve really p*#!?d me off.

15. “Not sure this was meant for me…”

Translation: This isn’t my job – don’t ask me to do it.

16. “Friendly reminder”

Translation: It’s not friendly. You’ve had more than enough time – where’s what I asked for?

17. “Can you think of a way we can avoid this in the future?”

Translation: Your mistake was stupid.


Feeling a little guilty? Don’t! It’s fine, we’ve all done it. And sometimes, it’s kind of necessary, isn’t it?

Got any examples of your own? We’d love to hear them. Comment in the section below or reach out to us on Twitter (we don’t bite!).

If you enjoy bouts of passive aggression, you’ll probably love this post we wrote a while ago: 21 Hilariously Sarcastic Office Notes

And feel free to subscribe to this blog – so you can receive a weekly update on our Friday Funnies.

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Eeva Marshall
3 years ago

Great article, Thanks a lot for sharing such a kind of informative article. these tips will help me so much!!!

Bernadette Finn
Bernadette Finn
1 year ago

These are brilliant! I do write “Thanks in advance” quite a bit and I genuinely mean thanks for your help, in advance. I feel bad now!

7 months ago

Very helpful post thanks for sharing.

Louie M
Louie M
5 months ago

Pretty much a passive-aggressive article about passive-aggressiveness: 5, 6, 7, 8, 13 – You just placed people with cognitive disabilities, seeking or providing further clarification as passive-aggressive, and offered no alternative. This is a sign of humility in most cases and in many cases people do not give a perfect clear picture of what they are saying. What is the problem with accepting and communicating the fact that human communication is imperfect and you might need to clarify or receive a clarification? 10 – Since we can’t thank someone in advance (for their time, their attention, their negative or positive… Read more »