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.
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.
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 …”
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.
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.
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 …”).
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.”
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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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