Wording Counts on Emails

Dear Mrs. McVeigh,

I was attempting to explain to my young adult son that how you word things when communicating with people is so important, especially in a business setting. He is frustrated with his boss because she is really bad at following up with him, when it comes to giving him information that he needs to move forward in his job. He said she gives him curt responses and is defensive when he asks her for the information, so I asked him to see his emails. I think the issue is the way he is asking for it sounds like he is accusing her of not following up. His argument is that she has not followed up, so he is reminding her. Can you give some examples of ways to politely ask for things? (He is not listening to me.) Thank you.


Dear Anonymous,

When you are communicating with a boss, I agree with you that coming across as he or she is not doing her job is not a good decision. A way to word it in an email or verbally would be, “I realized I do not have all the information for the XYZ report. I think I am supposed to get part of that from you. Is that correct, or is there something that you need from me?” This way you are giving her the benefit of the doubt, and are approaching the situation in a non-threatening way. Being overly nice and humble is always the way to deal with a boss. Not to stereotype, but especially a female. Males tend to take a more direct approach with employees, and women typically feel more comfortable with a less direct one.