What Are You Really Saying in Your Email?


We hope this blog post finds you well. Per our previous posts, CTR loves bringing you all those great tips and tricks for managing your team along with all the latest HR and Payroll news. But sometimes you just have to take a step back and appreciate all of those unsung idiosyncrasies that make today’s workplace so interesting. 

It’s probably safe to say that most of us send our fair share of emails every day. Email correspondence definitely comes with its own set of etiquette and idioms. Have you ever wondered what some of those stock email phrases really mean? Let’s explore some of the most time-tested standbys. 

What Your Email Salutation Says About You

It’s the first thing your recipient reads. How are you going to introduce your message? You might not realize it, but the greeting you choose says a lot about the tone of the email and the relationship you have with the reader. 

Dear Mr./Ms. [Last Name],

You’re pretty old-school. Writing letters and email is an artform. This granddaddy of all salutations shows you’ve been around the block a few times. You want to keep things formal and professional. Maybe you’ll loosen up a bit as the replies keep going back and forth, but for now, it’s business time. 

Hello/Hi There or Greetings,

You’re approachable and optimistic about the content of your email. You want the reader to be excited about what you have to say. However you still want to give off an air of professionalism. You’re not BFFs with this person after all, but hey, you’d be ok with throwing an emoticon into a future correspondence down the road : )

Pro Tip: This is also a great option if you just cannot remember how the recipient spells their name. Wait for their reply and check the signature. 

To Whom It May Concern,

You have no idea who you’re actually talking to but you gotta put something at the top of that email. Gosh, email addresses without a name in them are just the worst. 


You’re talking to a peer or coworker. No need for superfluous pleasantries. You need that thing! Or, maybe you’re just too cool for school and want to show your recipient that you like keeping it casual. 

No Salutation

Some people just like to watch the world burn. Ok, maybe you’re not that chaotic, but you definitely don’t have time to screw around. You’ve got stuff to do and so does your recipient. Let’s get to the good stuff already! 

Common Email Phrases and What They Really Mean

Office jargon can feel like a second language sometimes. From all those fun acronyms we use to the common email phrases we can’t help but incorporate into our writing. Here’s what you’re really saying. How many look familiar?

Sorry for the late response

Are you though? You saw the email. You thought about it. Maybe even planned your response. There’s just so much else going on, and their message just fell off your radar. You’re only human! Note: this is fine every once and a while, but don’t overuse it. 

Thanks for handling this

You’ve asked something of someone, but aren’t really giving them a choice on whether or not they “handle” it. You expect it to be done by the time they finish reading your email. 

Let me know if you need anything

You want them to think you’re helpful and accomodating, but seriously, they should be able to figure this out on their own. You’ll probably judge them if they actually do let you know. You’ve probably explained what you need about a million times already. 

This is just a friendly reminder that…

This reminder is anything but friendly. You need that thing and you’ve needed it for, like, forever. But there are protocols in place. You have to ease into the nudge or you’re probably going to be waiting even longer because your recipient is annoyed. 

Thanks for your email

Great, something else to deal with.You want to acknowledge that they sent you something, but you just don’t have the bandwidth right now. This phrase is usually found in emails responding to your boss or supervisor who you know is about to Slack/IM/Chat you in five seconds asking if you saw the email. 

I’m sure you’re super busy, but…

You don’t really care how busy they are. You need answers now! Try not to use this one too often. Spoiler: We’re all super busy all the time. It’s implied. 

Per my last email

This is the absolute most passive-aggressive email lingo on record. If you get hit with one of these bad boys, you’ve got some serious damage control to do. The subtext here is something like, “I’ve asked you to do this a hundred times” or “what is it that you don’t understand?” The sender of this email knows you can scroll back through the thread, but it looks like you’re missing the mark. If you see this phrase in your emails often, you might need to do a little soul searching. 

The Art of the Email Sign-Off

How you end an email says just as much about you as how you begin it. Your sign-off gives you one last chance to convey the email’s tone. What’s your go-to?


This is the perfect complement to “Dear Mr./Ms.” It’s a classic and carries an air of sophistication. You meant what you said in the email and expect the same from your recipient. 


The email was professional, but with just a hint of personality. You’ve got to say something to wrap it up and “best” is great because it’s so interpretive. Does it mean “best regards,” “all my best,” or maybe even “you’re the best?” It’s a great solution for when you don’t know what else to say. 


Boy, you really want to stay on this person’s good side, huh? This is a great sign-off when you’re revamping an older conversation. It shows you still like the recipient and might even enjoy talking with them. Careful with whom you use it, though. Your boss might read it as snark. 


Whoa. Pump the brakes there, Romeo. This is a workplace. If you’re using “yours” to end your emails, you might want to reassess. This crosses the boundary from informal to overly personal. Are you really “theirs?” If that’s the case, you probably need to schedule a meeting with HR

Have a Great Day!

The exclamation point. It’s a bold move. You’re communicating to your recipient that you’re feeling particularly perky, or maybe even excited. While wishing someone a great day is innocuous enough, that extra little umph at the end can really drive the point home. You demand they have a great day. Or else. 


Oh, you’re welcome, buddy. Regardless of whether or not you’ve asked for something in the email, you want to let the person know you appreciate their time. No one actually likes reading emails…do they? “Thank you so much for taking a minute out of your day to read what I have to say! Gosh, I sure am grateful!” Ok, maybe it’s not that extreme, but who doesn’t like being thanked? It’s a great go-to when you want to show someone how important you think they are.


We get it. You’re cultured. You probably studied abroad in London or have at least seen one too many British films. 

Just Your Name

You don’t believe in pageantry. You’ve got more important things to worry about. You included your name just to remind them who sent the email. 

No Sign-Off

They know who the email’s from. Heck, it’s right there in the “From” line. You’ve both got stuff to do. Why complicate things with all of these arbitrary social constructs? 

A Quick Note on the P.S.

If you’re in the habit of adding a P.S. to your emails, ask yourself one simple question: is the info important? If it is, it should probably go in the main body of the email. Even if you just thought of something, it’s not like you can’t go back and add it in before you hit send.

Conversely, the ol’ postscript is a great place to add something a little personal to an otherwise all-business email. Consider these examples of how to best use a P.S. in your next email:

Wrong: P.S. I need this report by COB Thursday.

Right: P.S. How about those donuts in the break room? So good! 

Send Your Next Email to CTR to Learn How We Can Help Your Organization

These examples are just for laughs. Whether you’re communicating with coworkers, managers or clients, the recipient of your email deserves respect and professionalism. Heading up a human resources department certainly requires its fair share of emails plus tons of other responsibilities. CTR provides a number of HR and Payroll solutions to help you get back to what matters—making your humans happy. 

Contact us to learn what we can do for your organization. 

Have a Great Day! (We mean it)

The CTR Team

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