The Definitive Guide to Conveying Your True Feelings With Work-Appropriate Emails

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Tact is a lost art and so is professional pettyism within the workplace. Anyone employed in a semi-reputable work environment will tell you that email wars are real—very real.


You see, whether in or out of the office, people will try you (and whether in or out of the family, Faith will fuck your husband, #BlackMenDontCheatExceptForMiles); however, it’s how you respond to situations that can separate the Red Table Talks from The Queens Court. And when it’s all said and done, don’t we all want to sit down with Jada, Gammy and Willow for continuous rounds of “ahs” and “mmms”?

So, for the sake of corporate-approved language doused in passive-aggressive undertones and carbon-copied shade that won’t get you fired or labeled the Flo Rida of interpersonal communications, here are some of my favorite work-appropriate lingo that translate into true and aggression-filled feelings.

(Side note: It goes without saying that when using any of the following passive-aggressive responses, a typo automatically strips the clapback of its potency and validity. It’s basically the equivalent of Michelle Williams falling on BET’s 106 and Park; people move on, but they never forget.) 

Thanks. (period) = “Bruh, girl, sis, Karen and Bill, I’m done here and have no plans of revisiting this conversation. Ever.”

Any true email OG will tell you to never minimize the impact of a period at the end of a one-word sentence, particularly in the closing line. The mic has been dropped, the door has been dead-bolted shut and anything proceeding is above us all now.

More than happy to further discuss if needed = “If you want to go there, we can. In fact, meet me in the copy room at 5 p.m. and we can really see what’s up. #CoworkersCatchHandsToo”

In a nutshell, keep that same energy. Here, we’ve established that you are in fact ’bout that life while acknowledging there may be future communications needed to give whomever the clarity they need because of course, clear ain’t clear to everybody. With this simple step, not only are you setting a corporate, non-hostile environment for Becky to say it to your face in the event she’s feeling froggy, but you’re also creating transparent pathways of resolution, while giving a friendly reminder to everyone on the email chain that you’ve been clear here, were never confused here and are more than happy to address the foolishness because like Bone Crusher, you ain’t neva scared.


Recapping in writing or as discussed… = “Since I know your happy place is a bed of alternative facts, I now have to type this long email of truths so we all have of actual record what really happened.” (my personal favorite)

Men lie, women lie but what’s captured concisely and factual in writing shall always prevail. Besides, opening an email with these few words is guaranteed to annoy the receiver for the next 20 minutes and at the end of the day, isn’t that what email shade is all about? Also, bonus points to those of us who’ve received this type of email and Serena Williams’d that mess right back in the opposite direction by responding (“reply all” for the real ones) with corrections and/or additional notes. The world needs more people like you.


I’ve reattached for your convenience = “Ask me to forward the meeting notes one more time...”

This one isn’t so much shade, as it’s simply wanting your coworkers to be great. And since it was apparently too hard the first, second and third time, reattach, re-forward, and resend as often as needed.


Looping/Copying in _______ = “I dare you to try to lie your ass out of this.”

Remember when 50 Cent put Jackie Long every which way on blast for his $250K debt? Well this is the professional, passive-aggressive equivalent. This one isn’t for the faint of heart and please believe, you better have all your facts and ducks in a row before bringing others to the table. When done correctly, you realize there is freedom when hitting “send” when forced into transparency and don’t we all want to live our truths?


Per my last email = “Yo, I said what I said.”

If there was ever a way to give a middle finger in writing it’d be this. An oldie but always a goodie and a professional jerk’s favorite. When it comes to the “per my last email” routine, we all know what’s going on and seldom does it end well. In fact, I’d argue the term isn’t even passive-aggressive language, but rather someone being a self-admitting ass, which, when used in the proper context, is understandable behavior. You think I enjoy retyping what I just wrote one email ago, or coming up with a way to say the same thing differently out of respect to your feelings? Nope. You didn’t respect my fingers and the words they typed, and you certainly didn’t respect yourself enough to even attempt to find the time or strength to scroll the email chain, so here we are.


(Side note: If you really want to make your coworker hate you indefinitely, use the person’s first name, offset by commas (If an email gets to this point, you might as well grab your Vaseline and hair ties). Case in point, “Per my last email, Tim, going forward please make sure…” I rest my case.)


Chevonne is a lover of all things pop culture and Oprah. Creator of the blog AdoreColour, her work has appeared in EBONY, ESQUIRE, HuffPost and more. She’s also a proud two-time Monopoly winner.



I have been known to drop a “per my previous email” or “see below” while forwarding said previous email. That’s only when we’ve been going around for too long about some shit I know I said, or if someone tries to call me out on not doing something I know I did or doing something I know I didn’t do. “You never told me the TPS reports need new cover sheets.” Oh word? “FW: Subject: New TPS report cover sheets. Please see below; we discussed the TPS report cover sheets on October 2.

During a contract job, I hit all of these in one email when the client tried to cheat me out of overtime. I had to “loop in” the staffing agency representing me AND the client’s HR department.