When we say “please” in English, it is actually short for “if you please”. It implies a request rather than a demand.

Unfortunately, many supervisors take this meaning too literally and consider the word unnecessary when asking subordinates to do something. Their thinking is: the thing needs to be done, whether or not it pleases their subordinates.

Of course, the word “please” also implies appreciation and care. When a boss says “Could you please complete this report by Friday?”, it conveys the following:

  • I need the report by Friday
  • I appreciate your efforts in completing this report by Friday
  • If there are any reasons why this report can’t be completed by Friday, I want you to share them with me

So much meaning in such a small word.

Research by Christine Porath (author of Mastering Civility) shows that 62% of employees reported that they were treated rudely at least once a month in 2016, up from 55% in 2011.

We can do better than this. We can reverse that trend in 2021.

If we please.

HT to Melanie Katzman, author of Connect First.

One thought on “Please

  1. You reminded me of my father …who always was very polite with everyone including his employees .and one day I must have been 5 or 6 i asked why do you say please and thank you to your employees ..they have to do the work anyway because you pay them for that and he said because this is the right way to talk to anyone. after 70 years I still remember and for 70 years I have tried to follow his exemple.. Good exemples matter..


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