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.