Business

10 Common Phrases That Make You Sound Passive-Aggressive in the Workplace

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For many professionals, the majority of daily work communication happens through emails. Unfortunately, it can be hard to gauge someone's tone through a computer — and your emails could be coming off a little aggressive.

Whether intentional or unintentional, being passive-aggressive in the workplace could make others uncomfortable, create tension and even jeopardize your job.

A recent study from WordFinder by Your Dictionary, an online word search tool, collected data from Ahrefs and Google Adwords to find the most-used passive-aggressive work phrases, most of which seem pretty harmless at first glance. 

"For better or worse, digital communication, whether it's through email or direct messages on platforms like Slack, doesn't let us see each other's immediate reactions — which is why we look for ways to 'politely' express irritation," WordFinder representative Joe Mercurio tells CNBC Make It. "As a result, employee frustration and miscommunication are at an all-time high, with tone alone being misinterpreted quite a bit in email communication."

According to the findings, here are the top 10 most passive-aggressive phrases in the workplace:

1. Please advise 

2. Noted

3. Friendly Reminder

4. Will do 

5. Thanks in advance 

6. Per our last conversation 

7. Circling back

8. As per my last email 

9. As promised 

10. As discussed 

WordFinder also identified some of the least passive-aggressive work phrases, including "Sorry to bother you again," "Any update on this" and "I'll take care of it."

According to Mercurio, the difference in the delivery of these phrases have to do with timing and attitude. He also urges employees to think twice before sending their emails.

"To communicate effectively, employees should remember not to respond to messages or emails when in a state of frustration. They should also assume good intent, show empathy and encouragement, and avoid digital ghosting. As a rule of thumb: if you feel uncomfortable reading it directed toward you, try rethinking your approach."

Communication is one of the most important parts of an effective workplace, according to BetterUp, as it "boosts employee morale, engagement, productivity, and satisfaction." Communication also enhances teamwork and coordination and helps ensure better performance for organizations as a whole.

Mercurio advises professionals to bring the "Golden Rule" into the workplace when it comes to interacting and communicating with others.

"Treat people how you would like to be treated. Start by deciding if the request is better suited for an email or a face-to-face conversation. If it's something that can be relayed over email, reread the email and think about things like tone and reception. Overall, open and honest communication is the best way people can work together."

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