9 Passive-Aggressive Email Phrases That Are Basically Evil

A Rosetta Stone for every time you want to :’).

 minute read

In the nearly four months since this cursed year began, it’s safe to assume that most of us have exercised our right to passive-aggressiveness at least once, and if so, it likely came in the form of emails.

And who can blame us? Despite coming up against misspelled names, shockingly unrealistic requests, missed payments, and any number of day-to-day grievances (say, enduring a global pandemic), we’re still encouraged to remain cool and calm; to maintain a somewhat professional demeanor in the face of total incompetence (and total chaos). So, we retaliate the best way we know how: we send emails that are polite on the surface, but were in fact intended as vows of lifelong animosity. Inspired by the alignment system’s categorization of ethics and morals (below), this is the key to unlocking the hidden (and not-so-hidden) meaning of passive-aggressive emails. Maybe you’ve sent them. You’ve certainly received them. And now you know what the sender really meant.

1. “Hi [wrong name],”

An assertion of pure, unchallenged power. Chaotic evil of the highest degree. The fastest way to announce that the recipient is of no consequence, especially if both parties have met or have emailed before. An act of war.

2. “Just circling back...”

True neutrality. The last step before a sender simply types and sends, “Answer me or I will destroy you.” An example of one’s willingness to remain calm despite finding themselves up against a sentient banana of a human being. One rung below walking up behind a person and screaming, “Hey!” directly into their ear.

3. “As per my last email...”

If you sent this, you are chaotic good you are a strong soul who has refrained from replying with a montage of every insult on Veep in lieu of kindly reminding saying “I already fucking told you.” (In better language.) But if you’re on the receiving end of this line, you have been told in no uncertain terms to use your eyes and brain, you goddamn balloon animal. You have come up against lawful evil; a villain who has been biding their time before allowing themselves to skywrite how stupid they think you are, knowing there is nothing you can do about it. Why? Because they can. Because you did not read the fucking email.

4. “A little confused about...”

There is no real confusion here. There never is, particularly when faced with the works of a lawful neutral who uses their means of communication to let you fill in the blanks as to how it all went wrong. By allowing the recipient to take “control” (LOL) of the narrative, they force the party to acknowledge their mistakes and admit that they are fools; that due to their mishandling of a situation, they are confusing the masses. That they are, without admitting it outright, a complete disgrace.

5. “Just wanted to flag...”

Ah, kindness. A demonstration of how big one’s heart can be. Did the sender need to call out a mistake? Never: they could’ve let you wallow in the realization that, too late, you made an egregious error, the likes of which the world has ever seen. But alas, like a lawful good, they did. Any anger you (or any recipient) feels about this exchange should be directed at only one person: the maker of said error. This was your fault, and you both know it.

6. “Kind regards...”

A lie. Or is it? “Regards” suggests pure vitrolity, but kindness. Its inclusion is unnecessary as a send-off, and could otherwise be interpreted as a declaration of hate. Is there anything kind about a sign-off like this? Would you yell it across the mall to a dear friend you haven’t seen in months? Of course not. But this is the work of a chaotic neutral, and by the time you’ve finished deciphering their code, they will have been promoted to your boss.

7. “Going forward...”

AKA: “I, a neutral evil, am going to remind you that we will be forced to collaborate again, but I will always have the upper hand because I am smarter and better than you, and everybody knows it. I will never forget the mistakes that you made, and I will wait only for the right time to use them against you. Good day.”

8. “Thanks in advance!”

Only a neutral good would ever add an exclamation point to the otherwise frigid reminder that, for the love of all that is good, please remember how to do your job.

9. :) 

What...wh--why is this? We are adults. This is upsetting. Worse still, is that as adults, every human alive knows how off-putting an emoticon can be, particularly when coupled with a highlight reel of your failures, a questionable tone (“Best!”), or an attachment that you lost and had to admit to losing, the day before a project was due. But of course, such is the work of a lawful evil. Why? Because you can’t get angry at somebody offering what’s come to be known as a symbol of happiness, even if that person is now a professional enemy. So you emoticon back, and let a piece of your soul die.

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