Engineering is hard. But sometimes, it’s not the work itself that causes the most grief. Trying to communicate and collaborate, quickly and clearly, within your team and across external teams—it can often turn into a game of “broken telephone” (or, technically, “broken email”).
What makes these miscommunications so frustrating is knowing how easily they could be avoided… in theory. In practice, though, we’ve all had that experience of seeing an email come in and realizing its implications. One sentence in an email, and suddenly your whole week is shot.
And while new tech solutions and modernized processes are changing the game for many teams, there are still plenty of face-palm-able moments that most engineers will be familiar with. So we’ve rounded up this list of highly-dreaded phrases that we hope will give you a little laugh and a little validation to know: you’re not alone.
Here are the 21 sentences you never want to see in an email from your engineering lead.
1. “It turns out we were working with out-of-date CAD data.”
2. “The only person who knew about that retired.”
3. “The customer would prefer we take a stab at it before they share all of their requirements.”
4. “Did you see the change?”
5. “Our partners cannot access that data because they use different software.”
6. “The change was made in production without our knowledge.”
7. "Please refer to MIL-TFD-41C"
8. “The deficiency was logged, but not acted upon.”
9. “The customer does not understand the second law of thermodynamics.”
10. “We don’t know who made this change, or when.”
11. “We didn’t really understand the requirements, but here’s what we came up with…”
12. “The drawings were incorrect, but the machine shop should’ve caught that…”
13. “We asked for input on that during the design review, but nobody said anything.”
14. “I just got off the phone with our supplier, and we’ve got major rework to do.”
15. “There was an updated version of the PowerPoint that got missed.”
16. “As per my last email…”
17. “There was a miscommunication with some feedback, and it turns out the part can’t be manufactured as designed.”
18. “All those mark-ups were done on paper, so it’ll take some time to get them scanned and sent over.”
19. “We were about to get a prototype built and we noticed a critical flaw.”
20. “The term we’ve been using actually refers to something entirely different for the supplier team.”
21. “That’s the way we’ve always done it.”