It’s what you say… and it’s subtle

I’m going to share something with you today that has nothing to do with a Friday Find.

You’ll thank me for saying this, trust me.

One of my mentors shared this with me and I’ve never forgotten this invaluable lesson.

Here it is:

When sending an email communication, don’t give people a direct order.

Yes, you may be asking your direct report, colleague or contractor to do something for you – maybe in a timely manner.  Guess what? Asking someone to do something in this manner doesn’t come across positively. It’s a turn off.

Great leaders, like my mentor, understand that you can be direct, and ask people to do something, without coming across negatively. It’s a very subtle thing but highly impactful.

Here’s an example of what I mean:

Please send me that file before lunch today


It would be great if you could send me that file before lunch today

Can you feel the difference? Amazing leaders ask for things this way. There’s no need to be a bossy boots in order to get your message across to others. The second sentence is authoritative, assertive and direct but doesn’t have the same negative vibe that the first sentence does. Get it?



Two things to remember:

  • It’s not just what you say but how you say it.  This is especially when it comes to written communication where tone is hard to interpret.
  • People always want to do a good job. Ask them nicely – and directly – for what you need or want from them. You’ll build a much stronger coalition if you’re not perceived as a bossy person.

Put this into practice right away. You’ll be better off for it.

Happy Friday!