Just Checking In | 5 Better Alternatives

Just checking in is a standard phrase used to start an email (or other message). It’s used to follow up on a previous message or conversation and ask for an update on a previously discussed or ongoing project. It’s meant to convey a friendly, no-pressure tone but encourage the reader to respond.

However, we recommend avoiding this phrasing, since it’s so overused and can come across as passive-aggressive. In follow-up emails, it’s important to incentivize the addressee to reply without coming across as pushy or disingenuous.

What should you write instead? We suggest a few good alternatives below.

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1. Last week, we spoke about …

If you’re following up to ask them to do something you previously discussed or agreed on, you can open by referring directly to what they promised in your previous conversation. Avoid phrasing this in an accusatory way (e.g., “I noticed you haven’t done what we agreed on”). Be straightforward but polite.

Examples: Reminding them what you agreed on
Last week, we spoke about next steps for the recruitment process. I was wondering if you’ve made much progress or run into any obstacles setting up the job posting. Let me know!

We agreed in our call last Monday that you would communicate your final decision to me by this Wednesday. I’m just reaching out to check that this hasn’t slipped through the cracks. Please get back to me as soon as you can.

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2. I’d love to get an update on …

You can also try a direct approach: just state what kind of response you want in a straightforward way. Continue with any questions you want answered. Avoid coming across as overly blunt by keeping the emphasis positive: “I’d love to hear …” “It would be great if …”

Examples: Direct approach
I’d love to get an update on the status of the email outreach campaign. Have you been able to get started? Let me know where we stand and if there’s anything I can help with.

It would be great to hear how the project is going so far. Did you already fill Paul in on the details? Did you run into any issues? Let me know.

3. I know you were interested in …

Another option is to follow up on something the addressee mentioned in a previous interaction, using it to transition into talking about what you want from them. Offer them more detail on a point they expressed interest in. This could be something directly connected to what you want to ask or something else that just gives you an excuse to follow up.

Examples: Referring to a previous interaction
I know you were interested in hearing more details of what we can offer. I’m sending along some additional resources; I’d love to hear what you think.

I’ve attached the charts I referred to in our previous discussion in case they’re helpful for your research. How is it going so far?

4. I’m following up to add …

If there’s no specific point from a previous discussion to follow up on, you can always still reach out with further information without any specific justification. This could be something that indicates the importance of their response, makes whatever you’re offering them more appealing, or simply gives you a pretext for following up.

Examples: Providing further information
I’m following up to add something I didn’t get a chance to mention in our meeting. It’s a feature that we haven’t implemented yet but that may be relevant to your initiative …

I wanted to send along this document to provide some additional context for what we discussed on Friday. It shows …

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5. What’s the current status of …?

Finally, it’s perfectly fine to just open directly with the question you want answered. If you find this comes across as impolite, you can also soften it by posing it as an indirect question (e.g., “I’m wondering whether …”).

Examples: Asking a question
What’s the current status of the negotations? I understand that nothing has been decided yet, but it would be great if you can let me know your perspective on the likely outcome.

I’m curious what kind of effect the new landing pages are having so far. Do we have any numbers on this yet?

What’s wrong with “Just checking in”?

On the surface, just checking in is intended to convey a light, friendly tone and encourage the addressee to respond without blaming them for not having already done so. It’s informal, consisting of a short phrase rather than a full sentence (i.e., “I am just checking in”).

But because of how frequently the phrase is used to pester people to reply, it doesn’t really signal the intended friendliness but instead comes across as passive-aggressive. People tend to see “Just checking in” and translate it in their heads into “I need a reply, now!” simply because that’s what it normally means in practice.

Of course, replacing it with another phrase doesn’t permanently fix the issue. Any phrase that becomes a standard opening for follow-up emails is likely to take on the same passive-aggressive connotation eventually, for the same reason. But by varying your approach, you can keep it fresh and avoid the immediate groan-inducing effect of “Just checking in.”

Other interesting language articles

If you want to know more about commonly confused words, definitions, and differences between US and UK spellings, make sure to check out some of our other language articles with explanations, examples, and quizzes.

Frequently asked questions

How do you start a professional email greeting?

You should start a professional email with a greeting and the name and title of the recipient (e.g., “Dear Mr. Walken”). Then, you should include an introductory line like I hope this email finds you well, followed by the body of the email.

For less formal emails, you can use a more casual introductory line like I hope you’re doing well.

What’s the meaning of “just checking in”?

Just checking in is a standard phrase used to start an email (or other message) that’s intended to ask someone for a response or follow-up action in a friendly, informal way. However, it’s a cliché opening that can come across as passive-aggressive, so we recommend avoiding it in favor of a more direct opening like “We previously discussed …”

In a more personal context, you might encounter “just checking in” as part of a longer phrase such as “I’m just checking in to see how you’re doing.” In this case, it’s not asking the other person to do anything but rather asking about their well-being (emotional or physical) in a friendly way.

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Caulfield, J. (2023, June 27). Just Checking In | 5 Better Alternatives. Scribbr. Retrieved December 4, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/effective-communication/just-checking-in/

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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.