Reaching out to a stranger via email? Avoid these 6 phrases if you want a response

Everyone gets unexpected emails from time to time, and more often than not, they get ignored.
From a quick glance, it’s clear whether one of these emails will be worth your time. Overly wordy messages or false friendliness reduce the chances you’ll respond.
But when you’re the one who has to reach out to a stranger, there are certain phrases you want to avoid to increase your chances of a reply.

Straight to the point contributor Jeff Haden compiled a list of 11 phrases to cut out of your vocabulary when you’re emailing someone out of the blue.
Some of our favorites to avoid:
1. “I hope this finds you well.” This overly formal greeting is a big reminder this person doesn’t know you. The same goes for “I hope you had a good weekend.” The recipient knows you don’t really care – false friendliness won’t help get you a reply.
2. “You might be surprised to learn …” Trying to gain someone’s interest with this line feels forced, and wordiness could stop them from reading on. Just jump right in.
3. “My name is …“ The recipient will see your name in the sender field. Don’t waste words introducing yourself.
4. “I know you’re really busy …“ Saying they don’t have time to spare but taking up their time anyway is off-putting. Respect their busy schedule by getting to the point.
5. “I thought I’d follow up …” Mentioning the person didn’t reply to your first message won’t make them want to reply this time. It’s just reminding them that they weren’t interested. Most likely, they ignored you intentionally. Resurfacing the original email can just be an annoyance.
6. “I want to ask a quick favor.” Typically, when someone says this, the favor is never quick — and the way they go about asking takes even longer. If you need something from someone, just go ahead and ask. The more direct you are, the quicker the recipient can figure out if they want to and are able to help.

Rachel Mucha
Rachel writes about Human Resource management and has been a member of the HRMorning staff since 2017. She is a graduate of Ithaca College. Email: