ending an email with “please advise”

A reader writes:

I’ve been working in an administrative role for the past two years and have found your blog very helpful. There are a lot of things that I wish someone would have told me about at the very beginning – especially email etiquette.

I would like to give some of that advice to the current staff that I manage.

I admit that I have a visceral reaction to the use of the words “please advise” (and ALL CAPS and soft reminders and read receipts). In most cases, I find that the person writing this at the end of an email already asked me a question in the email. The addition of “please advise” feels demanding and bratty and of course redundant.

My brain says this when reading it: You just asked me a question. Clearly I’m gong to advise you – don’t tell me how to do my job. You are incredibly annoying and childish.

I’ve searched your blog for some advice on the use of the words “please advise” and what I found was that a large number of people who pose questions to you use these exact words at the end of their question. I was shocked. I thought, “Maybe I’m wrong? I’m going to ask Alison!”

So? What’s the verdict? Am I being overly sensitive?

Well, yes.

I’m not a big user of “please advise,” but I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using it. People tend to use it when wrapping up to indicate, “Can you give me your thoughts on this?” or “How should I handle this?” I don’t think it’s in any way intended to be demanding — it’s just a wrap-up to the message.

It does have a slightly more formal feel to it than I prefer, but it’s not like the horrid and condescending “gentle reminder.”

So I’d let this one go. And I definitely wouldn’t instruct others not to do it, since it’s really just a personal preference on your part, not a rule that they should be following in general.

{ 406 comments… read them below }

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      ‘Cause I’m in Scotland, I can occasionally get away with ‘wee reminder’ instead….I usually go with ‘this is your 2nd reminder’ or maybe ‘this is a reminder that the deadline for x is _’

    2. jmkenrick

      Yes, but plenty of people use it earnestly: as in, hmm, haven’t heard back hope they didn’t forget but don’t want to be a nag…

      It’s difficult to find delicate ways to follow-up with someone when you’re unsure if something’s fallen off their radar or not.

      1. HR Generalist

        Maybe it’s worse, but I use “This is a reminder that…” and then “This is your 2nd reminder notice that…” and finally “This is your 3rd reminder that….”

        If I have to remind you more than once you’re probably on my nerves more than I am on yours.

        1. Kelly O

          Well, except when someone isn’t responding.

          Just this morning I had to send out a “second reminder” to someone about turning in something that should have been turned in two weeks ago. So once a week I’m sending something, since she’s not always in the office, but I never know when that will be.

          I don’t really like the “gentle reminder’ phrasing, but I guess I don’t necessarily see a way around sending reminders. (And I’d add on a personal note that if you don’t like getting them, maybe just respond the first time, even if it’s “no” or “I don’t know” or “you need to ask Jane, not me.”)

      2. Kate M

        I usually just say:

        Hey!
        Just a reminder that I needed X when you get a chance. Thanks!

        Or something to that effect. I’m literally just giving a reminder, no qualification needed. Maybe that’s a little too informal for some places, but it generally works for me.

        1. Mimi

          I write that, too. To me, the two exclamation points read as “hey, I’m not annoyed, but I really need this info.”

      3. Cath in Canada

        I’ve used “just bumping this to the top of your inbox!” before, but only with people who I know are pretty chill and aren’t going to interpret it as “you clearly don’t know how to manage your workload so please let me nag you”.

        “Have you had a chance to look into this yet?” and “Any updates on this?” also work for some people.

      4. Ask a Manager Post author

        The issue is that they want to find a delicate way, which implies “I don’t think you can handle a straightforward mention that I’m still waiting on this.” The desire to more delicate than that is what grates.

        1. Jillociraptor

          I think that’s exactly it. A recent fad in my workplace is “kindly requesting” things. Like, “Kindly reply to this message by Thursday.” Not something that’s going to ruin my day or anything, but you could just ask me to do the thing, and I’ll do the thing, because I’m a professional adult who works hard to meet my obligations.

          I do appreciate it when people are willing to take context into account, so sometimes an opener that acknowledges, “hey, I know you’ve been working really hard on X so this might have fallen off the radar…” is appreciated, but I really do want to get you what you need!

          1. Anonymouse

            I have used the “kindly requesting” bit. I use it for senior co-workers when I’ve been instructed by my supervisor to ask them to take action on a project. But I usually blend the “can you do X” question with “kindly requesting” so it reads, “Can you kindly read X and do Y and get back to me with Z? Thanks!”

        2. Us, Too

          I admit that I’m sometimes inclined to send a “not-so-gentle” reminder by the time I’m sending the xth reminder. LOL.

        3. Jules

          Maybe its location based but where I am at, people find my emails abrupt so I have to add the gentler language. Some appreciate it so they don’t have to take 30 minutes to craft a reply to me. I moved from big city to mid-Michigan and West Michigan though.

          1. Not me!!

            Kinda reminds me of getting a message from the Dean of Students, “Please report to my office at your earliest convenience, without fail…”

    3. AMG

      I use quick reminder. ‘Hey, just a quick reminder to please send me blah blad by x date’. It seems ok to me, and I haven’t seen it on anyone’s ‘Grrr’ list ever…

      1. Robin

        “Quick” is fine, it’s the “gentle.” Like I’m reminding you in a gentle way, when you know it’s really not. Passive-aggressive or something.

        1. Anonsie

          Quick and gentle fall into the same category for me, with gentle being more annoying but quick also being annoying.

          1. AMG

            hmm. ‘Please let me know your thoughts’ is the only one I have left that appears to be a safe bet.

            1. Anonsie

              You could just say it’s a reminder without qualifiers.

              I think the reason the qualifiers miff people is that they have the exact opposite of the intended effect. A message that was truly friendly wouldn’t need to be softened, so when you get a heads up that should be a non-issue but it’s been thoroughly bubble wrapped it can come across that the sender is making a big deal about it and that has frustrating implications.

          1. AMG

            ok, thanks all. I am in change management and I ruffle enough feathers. I will have to watch these. And as an aside, I really wouldn’t mind hitting someone with my shoes. Especially the stilettos.

        2. Mimi

          To me the “gentle” reminder reads as “Pease don’t be mad at me, but I need to remind you of [xyz].”

    4. Rat Racer

      How about “friendly reminder”? That’s what I use when emailing a group. When it’s just one delinquent person I usually begin with “Hey – I hate to be a pest but…”

      You know, I think everyone’s got their pet peeves with email. I don’t like “please advise” either, but there are so many other awful things people do either inadvertently or deliberately (passive aggression is the worst)… I feel like I have to pick battles.

      Battle #1: people who reply all to large groups with “Please remove me from this email list”
      Battle #2: people who then reply all to say “ZOMG!! PLEASE DON’T REPLY ALL!!!”

      1. V

        But don’t you need to reply all with a request to be removed from a group email? If you reply only to the sender, anyone else on the group email who is going to reply all to advance the discussion won’t know to remove you.

        1. Rat Racer

          If the e-mail is sent out to a distribution list (scenario I’m envisioning) it’s hard to think of any circumstance where it would be appropriate to reply all.

          1. Beezus

            That’s what I envisioned, too, because it’s what I see. We have a process for removing yourself from a distribution list, and replying to all to an email sent to the distribution list isn’t it.

      2. Rat Racer

        I am reflecting that the phrase “I hate to be a pest, but” can also come off as passive aggressive. But I genuinely DO hate pestering people. Doesn’t everyone? The curse of e-mail is that it’s often so hard to communicate empathy — succinctly anyway.

        1. Rat Racer

          Well, often the reminder (friendly, gentle, otherwise) is for something totally annoying and bureaucratic, which no one wants to deal with, which is why they didn’t respond in the first place. I really hate sending those “please submit your TPS report by noon, Friday” e-mails, but it’s a part of my job (my least favorite part of my job).

          Prefacing the word reminder with “gentle” or “friendly” is a feeble attempt to soften the blow. But I agree that it’s ineffective, and that adults should know better than to shoot the messenger.

          1. YogiJosephina

            It’s just that, we’re putting covers on ALL TPS reports now. Did you get the memo?

            (Sorry. I HAD to.)

          2. Cassie

            I’ve used “friendly reminder” before – usually when the person has already missed the deadline. I don’t typically send reminders because I figure you are a grown-up and you can (should be able to) manage your own deadlines. But if my boss asks me to remind another professor, I’m going to be inclined to put on kid gloves.

      3. RO

        Regarding battles 1&2. At my old job, someone forgot and send wrong email to an internal listserv with about 1000 people, she realized the mistake in about 5 mins and quickly sent and apology email and a note to disregard. All afternoon we received hundreds of emails “remove me from email list and please do not reply all.” Senior c-suite exec was pissed and scheduled everyone who responded to that email for a session on email etiquette.

        1. Meg

          The same thing happened at my old job as well! I worked at a hospital with thousands of employees and some erroneous email went out to the entire hospital listserv (I don’t even remember the original email), and for DAYS we kept getting emails from people saying “Please take me off this email chain!” and “Please stop hitting reply all!” DAYS OF THIS. I remember coming in that morning to 600+ emails and nearly had a heart attack.

          1. Beezus

            We used to have this. Now, someone in IT has figured out how to make all emails related to a conversation *poof* from the entire email network when something like this happens, so nobody has the email anymore to reply to all.

            1. GC Allen

              Same thing happened at my work place…thousands of employees all responding with “reply all”. Emails were coming in all day long. And from people who should have known better than to “reply all”!

          2. Student

            On many email systems, IT folks can lock down the major email lists with a restriction on who can send emails to them. Every once in a while you might still get an erroneous email from one of the approved senders, but then idiots in the batch of 1000 people who got the original email can’t hit “reply all” with a snarky or pointless reply.

            At my job, there’s generally a designated admin on the approved senders list. If someone who’s not approved to send emails to the list has a legitimate reason to send out an email to everyone, that person can contact the relevant admin, who will vet the request and then send it on to everyone if it’s deemed appropriate.

        2. Laura Beth

          Oh man, I’m on several listserves and several times a year someone requests a document, people flood inboxes with emails that say literally, “please post” and “me too” and that’s it. Oftentimes even after the actual document has already been shared!! And then there are of course the people who reply all to say, “hey, it will be posted, stop asking” and then the inevitable “please remove me from this list.”

          People with professional degrees should be required to take email etiquette classes, too.

    5. Gene

      “I’m still waiting for the Veeblefetzer Report, Please send it to me ASAP.”

      Simple, straightforward, and to the point.

      1. Cordelia Naismith

        I don’t know. This sounds kind of rude and a little angry to me. I don’t like “gentle” reminder either, but I think prefacing this kind of request with “Just a reminder” without the “gentle” is not a bad idea.

  1. AVP

    This is interesting. I don’t use that often, but when I do it’s because people occasionally read past the question parts of emails or respond to 1 out of the 2 things I need them to answer. Because signing off with “NOW WHAT PLEASE HELP MEEEE” would be inappropriate. (Or would it? I’ve been tempted…)

    1. Carrie in Scotland

      +1. With a little picture of Puss in Boots from Shrek, holding his hat and with The Eyes. Oh, The Eyes!

      1. Anonymouse

        I had a co-worker who would do that! He became legendary and it always lightened the tone of the email. Now his bosses, they hated it. But I think that’s why he did it. ;)

    2. Kelly L.

      That’s what I use it for too! I think this came up in the open thread recently too. I’ve been using it to mean “HALP,” but it seems that in other places it’s more like “Do the thing already! *taps foot*”.

      1. AMG

        “Can you please at least acknowledge that you are holding up a thing that the CEO asked for and we are STILL waiting on you???”…I suppose ‘please advise’ is better than that or whatever expletives I might be thinking.

        1. zar

          It has become something that is passed on from one new person to another. No one is demanding that you stop holding up an important project – more like, “I would like to take my break today at 5 instead of 6. Please Advise.”

          1. Stranger than fiction

            Yea see because you made a statement rather than ask a question. In which case the Please advise is their action item.

    3. themmases

      Yeah, I’ve used it when I feel like there is a big complicated tangle of a situation and I’m having trouble writing a concise question about it. So I just describe the situation as briefly and clearly as I can and say something like “please advise” or “I’d appreciate your thoughts on this” or “I’d really appreciate your help” (leaving “…with the above nightmare” unstated!).

      1. Amy Farrah Fowler

        Yes, this is how I use “please advise”. “Here’s the cluster fudge that’s happening. Please let me know what to do.”

      2. LBK

        Yeah, I use it when I can’t think of one single question I’m asking, but rather I’m looking for someone’s take on how to handle a situation. Although I usually prefer “let me know what you think” since I know “please advice” grates on some people.

        1. maggie

          I dot: “Thoughts?” for that. It’s the reminders that I *still* can’t seem to figure out and loathe doing. I should also add that I appreciate reminders since I’m disorganized and support too many projects.

      3. Anonsie

        This is exactly what I do. “I’m having a problem with this and I’m not sure what to ask for but this is what we need. Please advise?” It’s basically that I have a question or request but don’t have enough information to know what to ask for.

        1. Samantha

          Interesting. I think the phrase “Please advise” means “Define my problem, then solve it for me.” As such, I think it’s a pretty irritating/lazy way to ask for help.

          1. Samantha

            Sorry that came across as rude. I just mean… I normally expect people to help me help them, by either spelling out the issue, and ideally by proposing at least one potential solution. I often see “Please advise” abused to avoid doing either of the above!

            1. Anonsie

              That’s the thing, though. If I don’t know what the other party could potentially offer, I’m seeking them out specifically for that information. I don’t know how to line up a potential solution if I don’t know what solutions exist, and that’s why I’m contacting them in the first place. All I can do it explain what the issue is and what our end need is, and ask them what our possible options are.

              1. Uyulala

                Since that is what you actually want to know, couldn’t you ask “what are the options here?” instead of “please advise”?

    4. Minstrel Boy

      Given the general horrid state of business email etiquette in general, I find it difficult to complain about any word usage that begins with “please”.

    5. Cheddar2.0

      I also use it like this. It only happens rarely, but every once in a while I’m asked to email someone about something and I really have no idea what I’m doing/what the end goal is, so I put “please advise”. To me, it means “You have more knowledge about this thing than I do. please give me your knowledge so I can stop feeling stupid”

    6. Lily in NYC

      Yes! I am so flummoxed by the OP’s overly negative reaction to this. I use “please advise” sometimes with my boss – always when I’m expected to make a judgment call that I’m not sure how to handle. Makes sense to me; I’m asking for advice from my boss. I know everyone has pet peeves, but for OP to think that it’s annoying and childish for using a phrase she doesn’t like is a bit over the top.

      1. DMented Kitty

        This. I occassionally use “please advise” if I think the reader may miss various points in my email that is actually a question. I don’t mind it. I dislike the “gentle reminder” — it feels patronizing to me. I typically would just say, “This is a/Another reminder to please make sure you have X and Y done today. Thank you.” or “Hi, just following up if X and Y has been done yet? Thank you.”

        I have a lady who has “Thank YOU!” (note the application of all-caps) as part of her email signature — I read it differently but I don’t interact with her on a day-to-day basis so I just suck it up. Same goes for people who use Comic Sans and other scribbly fonts that are hard to read which I think is unprofessional.

        These are some of my other pet peeves:
        1) Using the royal “we” when clearly asking for a specific person in the group to help. Then the email request gets ignored by everyone thinking someone else will do it until the LW actually points a finger and say, “that means YOU, Wakeen”. I think I’ve caught myself doing this a few times but I realize it before I send it out.
        2) People who hijack an email thread for an entirely different topic. Oh FFS — we haven’t even closed this topic yet and you’re diverting the attention to something else? Go make a brand new email for your thing and stop derailing others’.
        3) People who mark each of their emails as “Important”. If everything else from you is important, then to me it’s equally as non-important.

        1. DMented Kitty

          In relation to #2 — I have had emails from two months ago resurface for an entirely different conversation. Seriously — I don’t get why this people have to dig through their archives to start a new topic instead of simply clicking “New Message”.

          This also leads to confusing subject lines. I like my subject lines clear and concise so I can quickly find it while quickly browsing in my archives. Some people either a) forget to put any subject, b) put a very generic one-word subject that I have twenty other emails with that same subject but for different topics, or c) put an entire novel in the subject.

    7. Darrell

      I’ll confess to using “please advise” in place of certain expletives. As in, “The task you’ve given me is physically impossible. Please advise.” “The servers you’ve asked me to scan don’t exist. Please advise.”
      If I didn’t have “please advise” to fall back on, I’d have to quit my job.

  2. Kai

    I think it’s one of those “boy who cried wolf” situations–i.e., don’t use the phrase unless you really, truly are looking for advice or a decision or a response of some sort. It loses the effect and can be irritating/condescending when you use it too often. Although I would agree that there are worse email offenses.

    1. Meg Murry

      Yes – the way it grates on me is when I get a message that says “please advise”, I take time to actually give a suggestion or remedy, and then either hear nothing or find out that they did whatever they wanted anyway without actually listening to my advice. Especially annoying if it’s a repeat offender – one of my co-workers and I used to joke that it actually meant “please give me advice so I can ignore it and do whatever I want anyway, and then blame you when it went wrong because then I can CYA and say ‘well, I asked Meg Murry for her advice’ and carefully neglect to mention that I didn’t actually follow her advice”

      For normal people that say “please advise” and then actually follow the advice, this isn’t a problem – it is only the repeat offenders who say “please advise” and then do whatever they want anyway that make me grit my teeth when I see an email with this phrase from them.

  3. Gwen

    At least in my office culture/professional experience, I’ve always seen “please advise” used…deferentially, I guess? Like, if I’m asking my manager a question, I’d say “Hey manager, this is the thing that’s happening, what do you want me to do with that?” but if I was emailing the CEO with a variety of other senior staff copied, I’d say “Here is the situation – please advise.” I could see how it might seem snotty when used in a situation that doesn’t call for it, like you’re being faux respectful.

    1. Anonsie

      That’s true, now that I think of it. I use it most with people that are either above me or that I don’t really know so I’m erring on the side of reverential language.

    2. Sammy J

      Yes, that’s always how I’ve used it. Most of the email is explaining the situation, then ‘please advise.’

      1. azvlr

        “Please advise” is one of a handful of conventions I use to (hopefully) make my emails easier to read, especially if it is necessary to include a lot of detail in the body:

        Subject line that indicates what the recipient should do with the email – FYI, Action required, Question about chocolate teapot spout training, Advice on incorporating milk chocolate in redesigned teapots, etc.

        Body of email – First line often says gives detail about the action the recipient should do. I then give background on my question. I try to leave the actual question for the end of the paragraph. If I have asked a series of questions, I put a final, actionable question at the end. If I am seeking a favor, I write, “I would appreciate any advice you can offer on this issue.” If I am writing informally to team members, I will use “Please advise. Thanks!”

        I only use this phrase when I am generally asking for advice, not in a snarky way.

      2. Lindsay J

        Yeah, that’s how I use it.

        Usually when a situation has gone pear-shaped and I have no clue what to do next. Earlier today I used it, as I was supposed to send a part out on a specific flight. However, the flight I was supposed to send it on was cancelled. There are a lot of other options on how to send it – I could send it on a different (non-direct) flight tonight, I could have them send it out on the first direct flight tomorrow morning, I could ship it Fedex overnight, I could use a private courier, I could send it on a flight operated by a different airline, or they could have a different location send the part. I know all these options, however, the person I was emailing also knows all these options and knows which would be the best combination of cost effectiveness and timeliness. Sending “The flight I was supposed to send this on is cancelled. Please advise,” is much more concise than the alternative of listing all the options out.

    3. Sara

      I use it in much the same way, and I’ve never been told to cut it out (directly or indirectly).

    4. Anonymous Educator

      Because it is deferential, I would view it as an obnoxious phrase only if used by a manager to a direct report and not vice versa.

  4. Katie the Fed

    I use it fairly frequently, usually in a context like this:

    “Boss,

    We have a situation with the chocolate teapots. We can either 1) switch to white chocolate 2) continue with milk chocolate or 3) form a team to identify new chocolate options.

    Please advise.”

    So it’s not on top of a question. I lay out the problem and then ask for advice.

    1. LJL

      That’s the way I use it too. I also use it infrequently. I can see how it might be annoying if overused.

    2. Sadsack

      I use it this way frequently.

      Also, I use it when responding to others who have requested info from me. As in, “Attached is the xyz report. Please advise if you require further information.” I realize that it sounds more formal than “please let me know.”

      Is this bad?

      1. Sadsack

        Ok, now that I think more about it, I don’t usually just write, “Please advise.” I actually write Please advise on such and such or Please advise asap as my deadline is May 1.

      1. Zahra

        In which case my (uncensored) answer would be “Yes is not an answer/an option. Please let me know your preferred way of dealing with this.” Of course, I’d try to say it more diplomatically.

      2. DMented Kitty

        “Can you please clarify? Is it ‘yes’ to option 1, 2, or 3? Thank you.”

        On that note, I also hate “Thanks in advance.” — so if I suddenly decide I’m not doing this for you, will you be sending another email revoking that “thanks”, then?

    3. Anonsie

      Yeah, it’s more “please give your overall thoughts or opinions on this matter” versus a specific question.

    4. Kelly White

      That’s how I use it, too.

      Sort of a “I can’t move forward without a decision.”

      1. AVP

        Yes, it can be a little like “this is me, putting the ball in your court. It is now on your side of the line. Do something with it.”

    5. zar

      I guess I’m being petty at this point but I think there are so many better ways to communicate with people. If I was having the chocolate tea pot situation I would write, “Please let me know which option you prefer.” I feel like more time is wasted when people try to save time on words and instead use “please advise”.

      1. PizzaSquared

        Yes, agreed. It just comes off as sort of short to me, especially when there are much nicer ways to say it. On the scale of things that bother me about emails, this is way, way down the list (and honestly I hadn’t even given it specific thought until I saw this post), but I don’t really like it.

      2. Kelly White

        Hmm, “please let me know how to proceed” seemed more formal and curt to me.
        I use it as more of a heads up- I need some input from you.

        I’ll have to re-think using this-

      3. AW

        Except with the way you worded it, you’re implying that your boss *has* to go with one of the three options you came up with as opposed to coming up with their own idea. I wouldn’t ever want to imply that I’m telling my boss what to do.

        1. PizzaSquared

          Some of this is probably just cultural (meaning office culture, not overall culture). But not only would I be ok implying that I’m telling my boss what to do, but I do that regularly. Or at the very least tell him what I think needs to be done, and just ask for his sign-off that it’s ok. When my employees come to me, I want them to come with solutions or ideas, not just problems. I hate it when someone comes to me and just says “here are three options, which do you want?” without providing any of their thoughts on it. I hire people to know their jobs and make decisions. That doesn’t go away when it’s something that needs to be considered at a higher level. In my mind, an employee who just comes to me and says “please advise” is taking the easy way out and making my job harder at the same time.

      4. Juli G.

        But sometimes it’s meant as please advise – not “tell me what to do”. I often use it with my boss or MOR to get their advice i.e. “Option 1 likely will result in this behavior but Option 2 will accomplish this.”

      5. nona

        I agree tbh. I think we could write “Please let me know which you prefer” or “What do you think?” and offend nobody. We wouldn’t say “Please advise” out loud, because we know how it sounds. Why do we write it in emails?

      6. One of the Annes

        +1. It’s lazy. Use plain language. Say what you mean to say. Ask what you mean to ask. No one would ever say, “Please advise” in conversation.

        I hate “please advise.” Trite business-speak. The only thing worse is the “Please advice” that I would get from a former coworker (a native English speaker, though you wouldn’t know from her messages).

        My, I’m sounding grumpy tonight.

    6. tango

      Me too. I dealt with a lot of rebate payments at old job and the reason certain accounts might be delinquent/unpaid was due to a variety of reasons such as items not qualifying, reporting problems, contract renegotiation so what I thought was due truly wasn’t but I didn’t have current documentation on hand, invoices making the report but some sort of tallying error causing a short pay, already paid but reported for the wrong customer, etc. So please research and advise because a go to phrase that kept things short and they knew exactly what I meant. And if I had to contact them again regarding the same manner, I would just say “follow up”.

    7. Stranger than fiction

      Exactly! It’s used in the absence of a question, so the reader doesn’t take it like an Fyi but actually acts on it.

    8. Mike B.

      +1

      “Please advise” means the situation is complicated and doesn’t lend itself to an easy question, or there isn’t time to articulate one, or there’s a lot of separate questions, etc.

  5. Editrix

    I don’t use the phrase for one of the reasons Alison mentioned: It’s too formal for my taste.

    I also can’t stand all caps in emails. My boss has a thing for highlighting key words, e.g., “I will NOT have contact with the printer” or “Please be sure to save ALL files to the shared drive.” I understand she’s trying to stress the importance of the message, but the caps feel distrustful to me. We’re not children here.

    1. ZSD

      How do you feel about putting those words in bold instead? This is what I generally do. Is it annoying?

      1. Editrix

        Bold is better–I can understand it for dates, times, conference rooms, key info of that sort. But I think the overall tone of an email can speak to its urgency or importance. Extra formatting can just come off as shouting. Here’s an example:

        1. Do not leave your belongings at the front desk.
        2. Do NOT leave your belongings at the front desk.
        3. Do (b)not(/b) leave your belongings at the front desk.

        The second option sounds like the sender is fed up. The third is forward yet subdued–not a bad option, honestly. But I think the first message, without bold or caps, is perfectly clear and effective. Most reasonable people will understand it. And if more emphasis is needed, you could throw in a “Please” at the beginning.

        1. Anony-moose

          Our admin has been sending these long, complicated emails. They have bolded passages, underlined passages, bolded AND underlined passages, and lines in all caps. They make my head hurt and I can hardly get through reading them!

          1. Elizabeth the Ginger

            “And I put down the pencil, and I turned over the piece of paper, and there, there on the other side… in the middle of the other side… away from everything else on the other side… in parentheses… capital letters… quotated… read the following words:

            (“KID, HAVE YOU REHABILITATED YOURSELF?”)

            -Arlo Guthrie

      2. Sleepyhead

        I figure my bolding in emails annoys some people, but I do it because those people typically don’t read the important parts and never respond. I don’t use it for folks who actually read the emails and pay attention to the important bits.

        1. Editrix

          I can see why you’d do that for some people, especially when you’ve already said something multiple times!

    2. Sara The Event Planner

      My boss does that same thing, but she puts the most random words in all caps, and puts everything on an individual line. With no punctuation. It drives me batty. Example from today:

      Good morning SARA!!
      Can you give me an update on registration
      HOW many for the sales summit in new YORK
      Also updated EXPENSE sheet
      talk to you SOON

      I always read it like she’s yodeling at me. Or speaking whale a la Dory in Finding Nemo.

      1. DMented Kitty

        LOL — I read it as some character from a Disney movie about to break into song.

        “Good morning SARA!!”
        “Do you want to build a SNOWMAN?”

  6. KD

    I don’t see anything wrong with”please advise.” I reserve it for instances in which I’m not explicitly asking a question and want to signal that I need a response/guidance.

    How do you feel about emails that say, “Just wanted to let you know that blah blah blah.”?

    1. Kai

      I’m fine with that when it’s an actual FYI email, but I see it a lot in more passive-aggressive contexts, where people want a response but aren’t going to ask for one.

      1. sunny-dee

        Yes, passive aggressive! That’s exactly how it strikes me. There are a handful of people at work who use this on every.single.email. and it drives me insane. Just ask a direct question or make a decision or leave me alone, but quit spouting off “please advise” and then wait for me to fill the silence.

    2. Sunflower

      This exactly. Sometimes on emails it’s unclear whether it’s just an FYI or something I need a response on. To me, please advise means ‘please write back something’. It doesn’t seem mean to me at all. In fact, I prefer it much more to someone writing to my boss and asking them and tacking on ‘Sunflower didn’t answer my email’ when I had no clue she needed a response.

    3. nona

      That’s fine. If it sounds normal and polite out loud, I think it’s fine to use in an email.

  7. jen

    i kind of agree with the letter writer. “please advise” as a declarative statement instead of a question is almost always used passive-aggressively. People who aren’t being that way would just ask ‘what do you think?’ or ‘how should i handle?’ . it’s definitely as bad or worse than ‘gentle reminder’ in my book.

      1. Anonsie

        Oh yes, I absolutely have seen it used this way, this is a really good translation haha. But usually not, and you can always tell from the context whether the person is using it sarcastically or sincerely. Same as something like, “what can we do about this?” It can be a genuine question or it can be a thinly veiled way of saying “I would like you to tell me how to help you not do something like this again.”

        1. Lindsay J

          Heh, I have seen it used that way, now that you mention it.

          I think “please advise” is okay when you’re asking a question going up the ladder, but coming from a manager to a subordinate it does usually come off as, “please advise WTF you were thinking when you did this.”

          Laterally, it can go either way.

          1. Anonsie

            Yeah, since someone above you is unlikely to actually want anything that could be called “advice” from you haha

      2. Mallorie, the recruiter

        Ok, this is hilarious, because I used to this way today! To my boss, about another group entirely, and I’m sure she knows me well enough to know what I meant.

        Didn’t know this was such a well known meaning!

    1. JB (not in Houston)

      It’s not passive aggressive. It’s directly asking for exactly what the writer wants, so it’s by definition not passive aggressive. And grammatically speaking, not all requests for a response have to be phrased as a question. It’s fine that you personally don’t like it, but it’s not passive aggressive and I am not sure where you get the impression that it “almost always” is.

    2. sunny-dee

      I agreed upthread, but since people were disagreeing here, I wanted to +1 the passive-aggressive vibe. It sets my teeth on edge.

      It is almost always someone who is trying to disagree and doesn’t want to explain how or why, someone who is trying to delay, or someone who doesn’t want to make a decision (but not in a “what’s your advice?” way, more in a “I don’t want to deal with this” way). But they won’t articulate any of those things — you just have to guess.

      Could be some weird cultural tick at my company, so it’s not like that everywhere.

    3. Lindsay J

      I don’t see it as passive aggressive at all. It’s the opposite of passive aggressive – it’s direct. I’m saying – “here’s the situation, tell me what to do.”

      I don’t like “What do you think?” because I’m not asking for thoughts or ideas, I’m looking for explicit instructions on what to do next.

      I don’t like “How should I handle?” either, but I can’t quite put my finger on why. There’s something about the tone of it that feels too deferential or uncertain to me. That’s probably my own bias, though.

    4. Cassie

      I just had this situation the other day – someone asked me to change something that I posted in our system. I couldn’t make the change because the combination of codes that she wanted me to use wasn’t allowed. So I emailed her that I had tried the codes but got an error message, and ended the email please advise, thanks, Cassie.

      What else was I supposed to say? “How should I handle your request?” That comes off as way more snarky/passive-agressive than “please advise”.

    5. Shortie

      I agree, and especially if it’s used after a question. If the question has been asked, I will answer it. I don’t need to be reminded in the next sentence to “please advise”. It just sounds so…jerky.

  8. Ann

    Ha, this post brings back memories. I’ve worked in three different offices, and this phrase was used by nobody at two of them, and then by virtually everybody at the third one. I always wondered if one person at the third office really liked the phrase, and everyone just followed her lead.

  9. Meghan Magee

    The phrase that drives me right up the wall is “please do the needful”. I suspect that it just didn’t translate well in to English.

    1. LittleT

      Yeah, I used to work at a company that had outsourced a lot of its work to India.

      One of their common email closings was, “Please advise of the needful”.

      It used to drive me crazy!!

      1. LJL

        That irritates me too. When I see it, I always remind myself that, irritating though that phrase is, the writer’s proficiency in English is much better than my proficiency in the writer’s native language.

      2. hayling

        I work with people in India a lot and they do say “Please do the needful” which is quirky English but not offensive or particularly grating to me. They use “gentle reminder” a lot which drives me batty.

      3. AMG

        In Taiwan, the one that was odd to me was addressing people as ‘dears’ whether in the email salutation or in person. ‘Hello Dears’. ‘Hello, Dahling!’

        1. Sara

          People in Namibia do that too, although typically only with others they know. (I got that salutation a lot from coworkers in my office but rarely from folks in other offices.) But in Namibian English, “dear” has come to be spelled “dia.” I spent a lot of time wondering who Dia was and why people were always thinking that was my first name…

          1. potato battery

            I just got really excited that someone else commenting here has lived in Namibia. :) and yes, there are a lot of customary informal misspellings there…

      4. Sparrow

        One thing I get frequently from my Indian co-workers is “I have a doubt” instead of saying “I have a question”. I also get “please do the needful” and “gentle reminder”.

        1. Anonsie

          I picked up the doubt thing from a really awesome math professor I had in college who would ask “does anyone have any doubts?” after going over something on the board. Or if she explained something to you one on one and you seemed iffy, she’d ask if you have a doubt. It was perfect for the scenario because if someone shows you a proof and you don’t follow it, you often don’t have a question so much as you have a “wuhhh?” I always wondered if it was an expression I wasn’t familiar with or what.

      5. DMented Kitty

        This. I have people in India who do this a lot too, but I grit my teeth and move on.

        They also like to use “gentle reminder” and “thanks in advance”.

    2. Ife

      I was just thinking about “do the needful” while reading this! I had to Google it the first time someone said it to me, because I wasn’t sure if it was supposed to be vaguely insulting or extremely polite. Apparently it’s a standard phrase in Indian English (and not at all meant to be insulting), and I’ve seen it in emails between Indian coworkers a few times now.

      This whole discussion is fascinating to me, because at my current job “please advise” is used a lot. At other jobs… you would’ve gotten some serious side-eye for that phrase. I don’t feel comfortable using it as a full sentence because it sounds a little stilted to me, but I don’t mind when other people use it.

    3. MashaKasha

      YES!!! THIS! Such a pet peeve of mine! By describing the problem and outlining the requested solution, the rest of your email is already telling me to do the needful. I was already going to do the needful. No need to rub the needful in! And, since it apparently means “please do what it takes to fulfill my request”, I have a feeling that, even if it translated well into English, it’d still drive people up the wall.

    4. Windchime

      Haha, I see people mentioning that here all the time but I have never received an email that said anything about “doing the needful”. I don’t think I would even know what that meant.

      “Please Advise” doesn’t sound snarky or passive-agressive to me at all. It simply means, “Hey, I would like your input on this.” Otherwise, the recipient might just think it’s an FYI email. Although to be honest, if I’m sending my boss an FYI email I usually indicate that. “Hey boss, just an FYI to keep you in the loop, blah blah blah.”

      I really think it depends on company culture.

    5. sunny-dee

      I actually had a conversation with my boss about this last week. (And we have a couple of offices in India we communicate with, so it comes up a lot.)

      “Do the needful” was a British expression for “doing what’s necessary” that was very popular in the latter 19th and early 20th centuries. It totally fell out of favor in the UK (and never did come over to the US or Canada), but because of timing, it remained a popular phrase in Indian English.

      1. Cassie

        I learned of the phrase after listening to some fiction audiobooks set in India. There was another word that was used differently than standard American English – was it something like “presently” instead of “soon”? Like “the President will be here presently”? I can’t remember.

    6. Sonya

      I got “needfulled” a couple of times before I went to investigate the thing. I have since found it an excellent catch-all phrase for any occasion. It is truly the Phrase That Keeps on Giving. It’s so delightfully vague!

      It’s gold when paired with “… and kindly revert.” Because that essentially says, please do this, then undo everything you just did”.

      And finally: “you will be intimated”, meaning you will be informed. Sexy way of putting it!

      But yes, The Needful is excellent.

      Need to go to the loo: “I’m just off to do the needful.”
      Running errands: “I have to get the needful done.”
      “What did you get done?”: “Oh, just the needful.”

      The result is now that my partner and I “needful” each other all the time.

      I also love the nonsense poetry of “please clarify my doubts”.

    1. Sheepla

      Me too. It’s never even occurred to me that someone would take issue with it. I’m pretty sure all 200,000 plus employees at my company use it regularly!

      I also get “gentle reminder” emails and never take offense. Usually it is something that has gotten lost in my inbox and I appreciate someone sending me a gentle reminder rather than just cursing my lack of responsiveness behind my back.

    2. peanut butter kisses

      I am having a hard time with the fact that someone is having a hard time with the word please being used. I think please and thank you aren’t used enough in business communication. JMO of course.

  10. Buggy Crispino

    I use “Please advise” (and have taken it from others in the same grain in which I use it) more along the lines of “I am not moving forward with any of this until you have your input on the matter.” Maybe I’ve been annoying folks all along without even knowing it.

    1. Hlyssande

      Oooh, yeah. That’s a great use for it. Some people don’t read the entirety of an email and may not realize they need to respond.

      I also find that, when replying all, it helps to specifically address the people who need to take some sort of action or provide an answer.

    2. Journalist Wife

      Yep. I use it a lot when trying to settle an issue between two separate departments or interested parties. (I am a webmaster for many sites at my University, and a lot of times people from a department want me to do something to their site that is in conflict with ADA compliance/branding initiative/common sense, so if they don’t take “no” for an answer when I explain why we can’t do it that way, I bring in another person of influence, like my boss or someone in charge of university-level site compliance, or the person’s own department chair, etc., and then explain the request, the problem with the request, and explain that I’m trying to resolve the matter. I close with “Please advise,” and cc’ the original parties in conflict so they can all see I’m trying to get an answer from someone at a higher pay grade than me that needs to weigh in. I don’t feel bad about it one bit.

    3. Soharaz

      That’s how I use it too. There are certain people I email who aren’t in the office so I tend to use a combination of ‘please advise’ and subject lines with Response Required to try and make them aware I need a response.

  11. Laurel Gray

    OP, Alison gave some pretty solid advice here. Is it possible that your reaction is based off your feelings in your role and the office dynamics? I tend to think that sometimes when we become sensitive to these types of things there are more issues at play. Are these people abusing the cc feature? Do they tend to throw you under the bus? Attempt to manage you/assign tasks and they aren’t your manager?

    1. caraytid

      I also feel it may have something to do with the nature of the relationship you have with the sender – it drove me up the wall to receive an email with “please advise” in it. Only because the former co-worker that sent it was constantly nagging me and it felt like she was using it in lieu of “I need your input on this now”.

      1. Sunflower

        I was thinking this too. When I have a good relationship with someone and see ‘please advise’, I think nothing of it. When I get one from someone who is difficult or needy, I definitely do a bitch eating crackers face at the email.

        1. Come On Eileen

          I love seeing “bitch eating crackers” threaded through the various websites I read :-)

      2. LawBee

        That’s totally my thing. From coworker A, I don’t give it a second thought. From coworker B, it makes me want to hulk-smash and scream “hey, try to solve this incredibly simple non-issue before emailing me!”

    2. Cath in Canada

      I think there’s probably something to this. I know that at least part of my strong reaction to “you need to do X by [date], please and thank you” is a result of the person/task combination that used it the most frequently in my last job.

    3. Jennifer

      I kinda think it’s a bit “bitch eating crackers” myself.

      I know I’m starting to react badly to anyone saying “I have a question” or “I have a *quick* question” (questions in my industry are never quick) or “Can I ask you a question?” because I hear it fifty times a day, for example. It’s not unreasonable to say that stuff, except for “Can I ask you a question?” because (a) YOU JUST DID, and (b) I am categorically unallowed to tell you you can’t ask! Trust me, you cannot stop people from asking!

      1. fposte

        Is it possible they’re meaning “Do you have time for a question?” People around here use “Can I ask you a question?” all the time, and I’m perfectly happy to say “Now’s not a good time–catch me when I break for lunch.”

        1. Cassie

          For me, I’d rather people just ask me the question (assuming I’m not on the phone in mid-sentence) rather than ask me if I have time or if I’m busy. And then ask me the question.

          1. DMented Kitty

            Me too. I don’t usually go for five opening questions before my real question, especially in instant messaging. I just say, “Hi – can you tell me if blahblahblah…?” and just wait their response (if I’m IM-ing them it’s not that urgent). Although if I usually stop by to ask a question I always open with, “Hi – do you have a minute?” so they can tell me if it’s not a great time to drop by and maybe come back five minutes later.

      2. Snoskred

        I wonder what would happen if you just said no to “Can I ask you a question” for a few days. Would people be shocked? Could you then make a joke out of it but one that also gets across your point that asking that question is wasting your time?

        It is a shame April Fools Day has just been and gone, because you could have sent out a great email “I am no longer going to be answering the question “Can I ask you a question”. If you have an actual question, please ask the actual question directly. This will save me on average X amount of time per day”

  12. LillianMcGee

    My newest habit is ending question-filled emails with “Let me know and thanks.” …I almost always used “please advise” passive-aggressively with my boss… but I never read it that way when others sent it to me so I don’t know!

    I think overall people have a hard time getting tone correct when reading emails. You may think “please advise” is bratty, but the person sending it may think they are just being professionally neutral. I admit it’s hard sometimes giving people the benefit of the doubt… especially if they are bratty in person!

    1. Lizzy

      I use something similar. For me, I always feel weird finishing the body of the email with my question. I have to add something along the lines of “Please let me know xyz” or “Let me know if there is anything else,” or I might even cordially thank them for their help in advance. I don’t mind quickly emailing my boss and saying something like, “Laura, did we receive the orders today?” But overall, it feels too awkward and informal to not add something after the question, and I think some people who use “Please advice” are doing so for similar reasons. They also might just be doing it out of habit, or because they learned it from someone more senior earlier in their careers.

      1. teclatwig

        Yes, when I read this question, my first thought was that I use it as sort of a sign-off after having gotten deeply into details.

    2. aebhel

      I tend to err on the side of not reading snideness into emails unless it’s either really egregious or I have reason to believe that the person is actually trying to be snide. I mean, we all have our pet peeves, but deciding that someone is a rude jerk based on a single turn of phrase just seems unnecessary.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I tend to agree, yet, I can have a hard time applying this idea sometimes. It is a benefit to do this as often as possible. Just decide not to read too much into something. Work days are long enough without added “stuff”. And I’d hope that someone would cut me some slack should I unknowingly pick the wrong set of words.

      2. Lindsay J

        I think this might be part of why I don’t have a problem with it.

        I also tend to work in industries where if someone wants to make it known that they are upset, they will be a lot more blatent about it than saying “Please advise.”

  13. CK

    I think I agree with the letter writer on this one. To me the phrase comes off a bit condescending.

    That said, it’s important to know who’s writing it. Some people might use this with no intent of being rude.

  14. jmkenrick

    As a general rule, I think e-mail should be read with Hanlon’s razor in mind – and should always be interpreted as though the writer meant well, unless proven otherwise.

    There are just so many styles and approaches…without tone, it’s really not worth getting upset over.

    1. Laurel Gray

      This is great advice! That is why I asked the OP if there were more issues at play in this office. I think rocky relationships with colleagues and/or managers can have someone interpret all correspondence with some level of snark, condescending, shouting, bossy etc in tone even if it is genuinely not the case.

    2. JB (not in Houston)

      I totally agree. If the person who sends you emails with this is in is known for being demanding and bratty, then you have a problem, and it isn’t that they say “please advise” in their emails. But if they are generally fine as coworkers, then you’re better off not reading into how ever they phrase their emails.

      1. Not So NewReader

        I bet there are people reading here and saying, “Omg, they are talking about ME.” I hope that they realize that it’s just trends. Words come into popularity and after a bit they fall into disfavor. Not much different than clothing.
        I think it is more to the point to mix up your word choice, don’t lean on one phrase or word excessively. People do notice that. A nun in grammar school taught us math. She said the word “alright” way too much. Half the kids in the class were keeping track of how many times she said it. Well, it was one way we could make ourselves pay any kind of attention to her. I counted 154 times in one period. It took over half the year for the nun to catch on to what all those little slashes in the corners of our papers meant. She was ticked, but it did not stop her.
        If kids notice this stuff, it’s going to be even more obvious to adults.

        1. JB (not in Houston)

          I had a calculus teacher who said a combination of the words “so um ok yeah” every few sentences. It was impossible not to notice.

  15. HR Generalist

    I regularly use “please advise” and reading this question made me so upset! I don’t intend to sound bratty or condescending when I use it, I just have trouble finding a closer and email etiquette says that I should every. single. time. (I hate picking a closer the most (in email-writing), I think it’s related to aspergers-y symptoms but it could just be a social anxiety thing).

    1. Hlyssande

      No, it’s not just related to Aspergers! I have the same problem. Sometimes I have no idea how else to end an email that indicates that I need an answer and whatever I’m doing can’t move forward without it.

      I admit that I use it a little more often when I’m frustrated about something, but there are times when it really is the best possible phrase to use in my opinion.

    2. Kelly L.

      I don’t think you do actually need a closer every time, whether you mean a “final sentence” or something more like “sincerely.” Especially with people in the same office, and especially when it gets deep into an email exchange, I see a lot of messages like this:

      FYI: Wakeen finished the teapots today.

      And that’s the whole message, and nobody thinks it’s rude, because those two people have already emailed each other 20 times that day and they’re not bothering with “Dear Jane” and “Sincerely” anymore, or a sum-up sentence at the end or anything. It’s a little different with messages to customers/clients, of course–you end up using more formality there.

    3. Dana

      I’ve noticed that yeah, we don’t say “Sincerely” anymore, but I feel really strange just writing my name at the bottom of a reply (and yes we have those auto signatures, but everything gets shoved down to the bottom of the chain, so you only see them properly the first time). So I’ve taken to using “Thanks, Dana” every.single.time. Even when they’re like,
      “Can you check these teapots for errors?
      Thanks,
      Philomena”

      I’m like,
      “No errors on these teapots.
      Thanks,
      Dana”

      which is so dumb, like I’m thanking them for giving me work? But I can’t figure out what to do!

      1. PizzaSquared

        Yeah, “thanks” is my new “sincerely” and it does seem pretty silly when you think about it.

        Thanks.

        1. Beebs the Elder

          Me, too. It’s really meaningless in this context, like “How are you?” when you’re walking past someone and neither of you is going to stop and really talk about How You Are. It’s just a . . . complimentary close!

    4. Not So NewReader

      Sometimes I close with “thanks for reading”. Or sometimes, “thanks for reading and mulling this one over”.
      I have had people say “thanks for all you do”, which is really nice once in a while.

      One thing you can do, is watch how other people close their emails and steal the best ideas from what you see. Important part: Don’t say anything you don’t mean or that isn’t true. For example if a person has not done something huge, don’t tell them they did. You can just say,
      “you made this easier,thanks” or something similar.

      1. afiendishthingy

        I had an obnoxious passive aggressive manager once who would scold you for some nitpicky infraction and then give you a syrupy “Thanks for all you do” to send you on your merry way. So now I have a bit of a visceral reaction to that one. But that is definitely a personal preference issue.

  16. YandO

    I usually say “please advise” when I am not sure what question I am asking. I lay out my problem and then say “please advise” meaning “I am so lost can you please help me navigate this so I don’t look like a complete idiot”

    I will admit, there was a time or two when “please advise” meant “you and I have gone back and forth on this and you insisted on your way and it did not work, so what do you want to do now?”

    I actually really like “please advise”.

    1. MashaKasha

      I do too! But I don’t think I’ve ever used it on top of an already asked question – rather, it IS the question. E.g, “the change request you sent me is asking for A and B. After some research, I have found that A and B are mutually exclusive and will cancel each other out if they’re implemented together. (examples of why/how this will happen). Could you please advise?” I feel that, if I leave this last sentence out, my email will sound bratty without it – with an underlying message of, “There’s a problem with your request, DO SOMETHING”. As it is, I’m asking my recipient how they want me to reconcile the A and B that they’re asking for, not because I’m blaming them or am throwing their request back into their court, but because I genuinely want to work together with them to find a feasible solution. I’m still unconvinced that it is bad form.

    2. Not So NewReader

      This. And there are times where I think I know the answer but I want to see if I have options. This comes from past experiences where I had situation X and thought I had solutions A or B. Then the person I speak with asks why not just do C? How come I did not think of that??? So I don’t always like assuming there are a limited number of solutions.

    3. Elsajeni

      The other thing I see it used for in my office is as a handoff when the question or problem that’s being asked is my jurisdiction, but someone else is acting as a go-between — in my case this is usually a question from a student that’s being forwarded to me by their advisor, or something like that.

  17. Belinda

    This is surprising to me that people are offended by ‘please advise.’ I see it as completely neutral.

      1. Journalist Wife

        I love this, and will forever now think of it this way every time I type it. Which is a lot, because I think it’s a super useful phrase.

    1. AW

      I’m surprised too. I didn’t expect so many people in the comments to agree with the OP but here we are.

    2. Jillociraptor

      Words only mean things in their contexts, though. In many workplaces, as several have mentioned, “Please advise” takes on other connotations. It’s all about being able to read the culture of your workplace. In mine, “please advise” is typically used when someone’s pretty irritated with you. Otherwise, you’d phrase it as a question or request, like, “I’d appreciate your input on this.” In other contexts, obviously, the words are used more literally.

      1. Windchime

        It’s funny, because to me, “Please advise” means exactly the same thing as “I’d appreciate your input on this.” It really is a Know Your Office thing, I guess.

  18. Calla

    Honestly, “please advise” drives me crazy too, but I 100% admit it’s because of who I associate with it. The only person I’ve known to use this constantly is one of my least favorite people. He’ll routinely ask me to send external invites for him, then 5 minutes later follow up with something like “Has Bob accepted yet? Please advise.” (if you wanted instant notification you could have sent it yourself!) “Have you booked that hotel I only asked you about on the phone 30 seconds ago? Please advise.” Or “How do I save a word file? Please advise.” So because of that, it does signal impatient and demanding to me. In fact I just searched my emails for “please advise” and 99% of them (250 results since July/August-ish last year) were from this guy!

    I don’t mind like “Please advise when Boss is available,” etc. it’s the abrupt “Please advise.” end of statement that grates on me. Personally, I tend to say something like “Let me know, thanks!” or “Can you please let me know?” when indicating I need a response and I’m not ending with an obvious question.

    1. Editrix

      I totally agree. If you don’t have the friendliest relationship with that person, their “please advise” can sound snippy.

    2. Rita

      I have the same issue with the response “No worries” but due to a personal relationship, not a work one. This person I know says it all the time (All. The. Time.), and for some reason it hits a wrong button with me when she says it. So now it causes a twitch when others use it, but I know it’s all on me.

    3. Oryx

      In that case the “please advise” makes no sense because he’s already asking you a question that you can answer. “Has Bob accepted yet?” (Yes or no) “Have you booked that hotel?” (Yes or no) “How do I save a word file” (have you never used a computer before?)

      So, yeah, for that the please advise would be super annoying.

      1. Calla

        The “How do I save a word file” is not a literal question that’s happened, but very close. He sends documents to me to get rid of a blank page (when all it takes is a single backspace to get rid of it) and when he got a macbook I was constantly with him at 30 minutes at a time trying to teach him how to right click or minimize a window, how to locate a file he has saved, etc. In his defense, he’s like 70-something, but whoo boy.

    4. Tasha

      My peeve is when people reflexively end all emails with “thanks,” even when they are merely letting me know about something, not asking me for something.

          1. Ann

            Agreed. I guess I always thought of it as similar to “Thanks for reading this e-mail” or something.

        1. Merry and Bright

          I do this too quite often. Seems polite, like thanks for reading(?)

          Much more annoying are cold callers from my bank or the internet supplier who finish up with “Can I help you with anything else today?” Grr

          1. C Average

            That’s right up there with customer service people who say “Can I help who’s next in line?” Fingernails on the chalkboard, that phrase.

            1. aebhel

              …why? I mean, what other phrase could you possibly use to indicate that you’re ready to help the next person in line? Especially if I’m just showing up to help a busy desk (I work at a public library), it seems a lot more annoying to just plonk down behind the station and stare expectantly at the line until someone comes over to me.

              1. C Average

                I like the sentiment; the phrase just seems so grammatically tortured that I wonder how and why it’s caught on.

                When I worked in customer-facing roles in retail and food service, I much preferred looking the next person in line in the eye and saying something like, “Step on up. How may I help you?” or even “Next in line, please.”

                1. doreen

                  I have fortunately never heard that phrase , but I suspect that somewhere along the way ” Who’s next?” got combined with “I can take/help the next customer in line” (or something similar)

                2. aebhel

                  Ok, I can see that. I usually use ‘Can I help the next person?’

                  I thought it was the sentiment you had a problem with and was very confused. :)

              2. ZSD

                That one bothers me, too! “Can I help who’s next?” is completely ungrammatical to me. “Can I help the next person in line?” is much better.
                I guess they could say, “Can I help the person who is next?” But that, while grammatical, still sounds odd.

                1. fposte

                  “Can I help whoever’s next” would be perfectly grammatical, though–how about that?

            2. Not So NewReader

              “Can I help who’s next in line?”

              I have done that one. I agree it is annoying to listen to. But sometimes the reason people say it is because there are line-jumpers. It is a way of warning people to stay in the order they came. And it’s also a way of warning others that people are jumping line and I am not happy about it. It’s sort of a crowd control thing.

            3. Aussie Teacher

              On that note, has anyone noticed the difference in these two phrases?
              “Can I help anyone?” versus “Who was next?”
              When a new checkout opens up, if they say the first one, there’s practically a riot to see who gets there first. If they say the second line instead, people look at each other and defer to the next person. It’s quite amazing…

      1. afiendishthingy

        One of my coworkers has it as part of her signature. Can’t think of any examples right off the bat but it definitely doesn’t fit for some emails!

        My peeve is no subject line… Our HR generalist pretty much NEVER uses one in her all-employee emails, and often her emails are just a pdf with no explanation of their content (usually a flyer of some event) so I have to download it to see if it’s anything at all relevant to me.

    5. Cath in Canada

      Yeah, those are not “please advise” situations! I tend to use it if there’s a complicated situation with multiple possible solutions, or if I’m really just totally lost. It would be annoying in the context of a yes/no question, for sure.

  19. AMG

    ‘Please advise’ doesn’t phase me a bit, although I usually go for ‘please clarify’ or ‘please let me know your thoughts’.

    The one that kills me is when someone calls or emails and says ‘call me’:
    person’s IM: Can you talk?
    me: yes
    person: call me at (phone number) .

    Erm, your phone doesn’t make outbound calls? It feels like a power play.

    1. Leah

      Might depend on the person, but that doesn’t sound like a power play. It seems more like the person assumes that an IM is less invasive/interrupting than a phone call, so they want to check in before calling.

      1. AMG

        It’s not the check-in; that’s polite enough. It’s when they say ‘call me’, especially from someone senior. If you want something, just pick up the phone and call me. I feel like I am being summoned.

        1. LBK

          I think the point is that they’re giving you a heads up that they want to talk on the phone and doing you the courtesy of letting you wrap up whatever you’re doing before calling them. It’s actually pretty nice, IMO – I hate when someone calls me unexpectedly and wants me to look into some issue while I’m in the middle of something (and hence most of the time I don’t answer the phone if I’m not expecting a call).

          1. AMG

            Well, it’s one example. Another is when I get an email that contains only ‘call me’. So you took the time so send an email to tell me to call you and that’s easier than just picking up the phone and calling me yourself?

            1. Cat

              I think that’s kind of the same though – I mostly get those when I’m out of the office, and take it as a sign that they’re not expecting me to be available to take calls at any particular moment.

              1. AMG

                Yes, I suppose that’s more out of concern for your schedule. I wouldn’t mind that at all.

              2. Leah

                The “call me” is a little short. Just adding a “when you get a chance, thanks” takes two seconds and is much more polite.

            2. doreen

              It can be – At my job only see it used where the person isn’t at their regular desk.
              For example, I’ll try to call one of my peers. If she’s not at her office phone chances are she’s in another building or on another floor or in a meeting. I’ll email her to call me. I mean sure, I could email her and ask what number she can be reached at- but if she’s not at her desk chances are she can’t take the call right then anyway.

        2. Windchime

          Exactly. I might IM and say, “Do you have time for a quick call?” If the other person says, “Yes”, then I call THEM. I don’t order them to call me. That seems really rude; after all, I’m the one who is requesting the call so I should do the dialing.

      2. Chocolate lover

        I don’t think the IM itself is what AMG is referring to – it’s when the person IMing then wants you to be the one to call them, even though they’re the one who wants something. That would annoy me, too.

        1. Relly

          Yeah, I’ve messaged people to see if they were available for a phone call, but I would say, “Can I call you?” and make the call myself, instead of insisting they call me.

          1. Ann O'Nemity

            Yes exactly.

            Also, I don’t mind it at all if people skip leaving me voicemail and instead email or IM with a request for me to call them back.

    2. Us, Too

      This happens quite frequently in my current job and it’s quite normal. I can literally count on one hand the number of times I have received a phone call without advanced notice from a colleague. It is “Something That Is Not Done” in our culture (which tends to be very email/IM-focused). Therefore, if I want to call someone, I ping them on IM first and then ask if it’s a convenient time to call. Or, I schedule a 15 minute call with a conference line and ask them to phone in. It would be considered very unusual for me to simply call someone, though.

      I suspect part of the reason for our culture being this way is that we have a fairly open floorplan, so if we were to routinely talk at our desks, it would be disruptive. Instead, we head to a conference room for almost all phone calls.

    3. Minstrel Boy

      I totally see how this can be annoying – they could at least say “please call me at …” – but at my work, for instance, it’s not always obvious what phone number is best to use to reach a person at a given time. (without going into details, many of my co-workers have 4 or 5 or more phone numbers). I’ve actually built a macro into our corporate chat program where I type “(512” and it expands into “(512) 123-4567 or tell me your # and I’ll call you”. It’s *extremely* useful.

    4. PizzaSquared

      To me, the worst is when I just get an email or text that says “call me” without any further context whatsoever. Not only does it annoy me because the person could have just called me, but I also now have a pit in my stomach, dreading whatever situation it is that requires a phone call without any written discussion.

      1. DMented Kitty

        Same goes for meeting invites received out of the blue with no brief description at all. I get those a lot. Meeting subject: International Teapot Commerce. No agenda or a brief description — nothing. To be fair they can just put “Agenda to follow”, but none of the invites I receive had any follow-up agenda sent. It drives me REALLY batty. I want to know the context of the meeting so I can prepare for it. Because if this meeting is all about you asking me about something and I’m totally unprepared for it, I will just say, “I will have to look that up and get back to you some other time.” and you will have just wasted everyone’s time.

  20. Leah

    Assuming this is really the only issue the OP has with her people – she’s their manager, she can tell them what to do. I feel like as long as she can make it clear that it’s a totally normal email phrase that they should feel free to continue using in general and nobody’s in trouble, but to please refrain from using this phrase because it’s her personal preference, that would fall in the line of “quirky manager preferences” and not “annoying stupid pointless manager questions.”

    It’s like some people where I work really hate double-sided printing. So we just print single-sided for them.

  21. super anon

    when i worked in a university advising office the front desk clerks would send out emails saying “x people in queue – please advise” as a way to remind everyone they should be advising students or if it had suddenly gotten really busy. for some reason i picked up the phrase from there and now i find myself using it all the time, in texts and facebook messages and tweets. i especially like using it when i need help and i’ve always thought of it as kind of polite way to ask for help, likely from how i was introduced to it. i really like it and never considered that it could be seen as condescending!

    i think if aam has taught me anything, it’s that you can never be 100% sure of anything when it comes to interacting with other people. i’m consistently surprised/fascinated by the responses i read here, and it’s why i’ll never be able to stay away.

  22. Snoskred

    I used to manage a group of volunteers for a Nigerian 419 scam warning website. Oh, the fun we would have with their frequently used terms.

    One of the frequently used phrases was “Please advice me further”. :)

  23. Retail Lifer

    Every nasty email from our home office bookeeper ends with “PLEASE ADVISE.” I also hate that phrase, but I think it’s just because of that particular sender.

  24. periwinkle

    Perhaps it depends on which way the statement is flowing? My boss’s boss would end certain emails to me with that phrase. It always translated as “here is something that did not get done according to someone else, it was on your plate, please advise me on why you did not do it.” I invariably had to respond with “here is what I did last month, this is when I sent the information, this is when I tried to contact that person and got no response, gosh it’s oily under this bus.” (okay, the last bit was merely implied)

    Because of this, I loathe the phrase “please advise” and refuse to use it. I’ll ask for advice, input, and/or guidance, but never with that hated two-word statement.

  25. EmilyG

    I think this is completely context dependent and I think it *can* be really passive aggressive. This is the kind of comparison I’m thinking of.

    “I need to put in the order for either blue and green enamel for next month’s collector teapot, and I know you met with Jane about the collector line last Tuesday. Did you make a decision already? Please advise.” I wouldn’t mind this.
    …versus…
    The recipient is dealing with a quality crisis related to last month’s collector teapot and all other work has been postponed until early next week. The sender was supposed to gather enamel samples to base a decision on, but flaked on doing it. The sender writes anyway and says “I need to put in the order for either blue and green enamel for next month’s collector teapot and Jane told me she didn’t know. Please advise.” Which would be annoying. Hm, I’m not sure I’ve invented a sufficiently annoying scenario, but hopefully the point is clear.

    BTW, this reminds me of a former peer who frequently signed off with “Thanks in advance,” or even used her own acronym, TIA! This drove me up the wall because she frequently appended it to requests that were not the recipient’s responsibility or anything they’d agreed to do. “EmilyG, can you reboot the X server because it appears to be down and I need to work on Y. TIA!” was reasonable enough. But she would write “EmilyG, there is no copier paper left, do you know where to order some? TIA!” which was infuriating.

  26. Kimmy Gibbler

    I have no problem in theory with “please advise,” but what bothers me is that it often indicates that someone is coming to me expecting me to solve their problem for them. If it’s someone who works for me, I don’t want to be notified of a problem without their thoughts/suggestions/proposed solutions. Then, if you ask me to “please advise” as to whether I agree with your proposed next steps, I am indeed happy to advise. But if it’s just a “here’s a problem, what should I do?” then my advice is that you should rewrite your email and come back to me when you have a plan of action.

    1. Kelly L.

      There are situations where someone under you (general you) genuinely does not have the information to make a plan of action. Or at least there have been, everywhere I’ve worked.

    2. YandO

      What if it is outside their scope? Or they are new and still learning the ropes?
      Or you are a better person to address the situation based on your experience/skills/expertise?

      Is it really a good use of their time to work on a solution that will likely be less effective and will end up being thrown away in favor of your solution anyway?

      1. Kimmy Gibbler

        Oh, of course. I guess I’m being somewhat oversensitive because I’ve had several employees in the past who drove me CRAZY with constantly dumping issues in my lap and never trying to bring solutions. Certainly, sometimes you have a new employee, a weird problem, etc. where a “I truly don’t know what to do, please help me” is completely warranted. But, I think more often than not that’s not the case.

    3. DMented Kitty

      I use “please advise”, but I use it sparingly, usually after I have presented options and just need some help deciding which option would go best for this particular situation.

      I don’t throw “please advise” to everything. If I do that I’d feel really small and incompetent.

    1. C Average

      That’s a GREAT post, and the comments under it are even better.

      One comment noted that “please advise” can be the equivalent of a punt: “Here’s this crappy thing I’ve been trying to deal with. I’ve told you about it in this email, so now it’s your problem!”

      Another comment alluded nicely to the passive-aggressive usage of the phrase: “‘Please advise’ is to the office as ‘Bless your heart’ is to the South.”

      1. Windchime

        I hear this about “bless your heart” all the time. About half my relatives are from the South, and I’ve never heard any of them use this phrase in anything other than a sincere way. There must be a lot of secretly snotty people in the South who are thinking mean things when they say “Bless your heart”, but I’m glad I’ve not met them.

        1. nona

          I live in the south. I hear it said sincerely much more often, but the passive-aggressive use is out there. And kind of hilarious.

  27. NJ Anon

    I use “please advise” or “let me know.” I want the recipient to know I need a response and that it is not just an “fyi.” Unfortunately, if I don’t use those phrases, I don’t get an answer/response. (Usually from a “higher up.”)

  28. Lizabeth

    I have to admit that I do use the term “please advise” AND in all caps to one certain person in our company. I don’t use it all the time but will use it occasionally when she has dropped the ball ‘again’ and pulled a “Charlie Brown*” on us. For some reason, it gets the point across to her that we need certain information now, not later or not ever…

    *the time between Lucy pulling the football away as he tries to kick it and before he hits the ground knowing that she DID IT AGAIN…

    1. Natalie

      Same here. I almost never use it but I did a couple of weeks ago, because “Hello? Heeeeelllllloooooooo? Can you please answer one of the 4 emails or 2 voicemails on this topic? WTF is wrong with you? Could you at least answer me so I know the Chicago office has not been wiped out in a zombie apocalypse or other natural disaster?” would not have gone over well.

  29. hnl123

    When I used to work on an international team, I found they used “Please Advise” quite regularly. I never mind it. It feels like I am being asked for my expertise, my opinion, my knowledge. Plus I like telling people what to do….
    I’ve also been using it fairly often as well. Though now that I work in a more casual situation, I just say “Please let me know,” and sometimes I even omit the “Please.”
    I would definitely let this one go…..

  30. Dulcinea

    I think it is a fairly formal phrase, and when someone we are usually casual/informal/friendly with suddenly becomes formal it does seem like they are annoyed or being aggressive. However, I also think that in many cases, people like to use fancier language in writing because they think it makes them look smarter or more professional or something.

  31. C Average

    I used to have to deal extensively with someone brusque, arrogant, demanding, and (based on her emails) borderline illiterate, and she regularly used “plz advise.” Those additional three keystrokes were apparently just a bridge too far for her. The phrase always brings her to mind. It’s not a positive association.

    1. Not So NewReader

      plz advise. This cracks me up, just like TY. They are conserving letters so the letters do not wear out or get all used up. Especially “E’s”. “E” is the most used letter in the English language. It’s really good to conserve on E’s, so that future generations may have some.

      1. fposte

        I bet these are the same thrifty people who are saving their turn signals for some special occasion.

  32. Jen

    I am not a fan of “please advise” either but it is pretty common and probably not meant to sound rude. If I am sending our a reminder, I usually just type “just following up on the message I sent to you last week about A, B, and C…” or “i just wanted to see if you had a chance to look at that e-mail I had sent to you the other day…” I do agree that it is hard to find a way to remind someone about something when you are just not sure if they had forgotten or if they are just swamped and are dealing with higher priorities.

  33. Anonsie

    Please advise, like a lot of things, is one of those generic polite statements that can become really snarky depending on the context and the person using it. I can definitely think of specific people who only use “please advise” in the negative context.

    I think part of what gives it that differing connotation is who is essentially armed in the conversation. Is the writer at a higher level than you in the company? Do they already have cause the be upset with you? Are they presenting you with new information about something that’s typically your responsibility? That’s going to tip it towards a stern request that you fix something without any further input from them. On the other side, is the writer genuinely seeking information or help? Are they consulting you as an expert who has information they don’t have? That’s more of a benign request.

    “How can we move forward” is similar in that respect, I think. If you are the disadvantaged party, this is “what can we do to make you happy?” If you’re not, this is “what are you going to do for me?”

  34. Kimberlee, Esq.

    If I have a specific question, and I know the recipient is either really busy or prone to scanning emails, I’ll usually state the question and then bold it.

    But otherwise, I typically use something that apparently many other people find really irritating: “Thoughts?”

    TBC, I only use that when I’m really looking for general thoughts, and don’t necessarily have a specific question. But it does feel like there’s a need to end the email with what you’re looking for. If it’s just an FYI, and there’s no action, I don’t put that, or any other question. But if I am looking for something from the other person, I totally feel the need to have the very last bit of the email reflect that.

    1. Cath in Canada

      I work with someone who uses “thoughts?” a lot. She’s lovely, but I don’t like the phrase. Yes, I have lots of thoughts about this. Not many of them are productive or helpful ones. Also, I’m hungry and mostly thinking about lunch.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I used to find it irritating and then people I work with started using it more so there was no point in being irritated. Now I use it myself naturally. It’s politely collaborative.

      Thoughts? or Thoughts, please.

  35. Vagabond Pharmacist

    I often use “please advise” when faxing physicians to clarify a prescription. They could respond to leave the rx as written, or change it to something else, or not understand what the problem is, or not understand why I’m faxing (so I try to make my faxes very well organized and clear). Some physicians can get a bit touchy about being “questioned” by a pharmacist, so I use please advise because it can help sooth feelings and imply that they are still in charge.

  36. Bend & Snap

    Well, this post has made me accept that at any given time I’m probably using an email line that makes the recipient want to punch me in the face.

    BUT really. It’s work. Don’t read in meaning or tone that isn’t there.

    1. LBK

      When it comes to email, how else are meaning and tone created other than via word choice? I agree that benefit of the doubt is important when reading emails just because tone can be hard to convey correctly sometimes, but it seems like an oxymoron to say “don’t read into tone that isn’t there” when you have no way to know what the tone is supposed to be aside from what you can grasp by the words the sender used.

      1. Bend & Snap

        I think it takes work to infer anything other than what’s written in a work email.

        Like the OP says: The addition of “please advise” feels demanding and bratty and of course redundant.

        If anyone is taking routine email language as demanding and bratty etc., it’s on them.

      2. Ultraviolet

        Agreed. People aren’t usually willfully distorting what they read or hear in these situations. Their natural automatic understanding of the words is just different from what the speaker wanted to make understood.

        You can see something similar pretty often in discussions about works of fiction. Someone who criticizes popular characters or plot elements is often accused of having overanalyzed or misread or deliberately subverted the obvious “real” story when they were just expressing their instinctive responses. People can be so different!

    2. Snoskred

      This times 99 million zillion billion.

      The worst manager I ever had was constantly misinterpreting my text and she kept claiming that I was sending angry emails. I had other people read them and they never got angry from my emails, they said my emails read as clear and matter of fact. This got to a point where I decided no more emails – I’d try to talk to her in person when I had an issue.

      One day I went in to talk to her about a security issue. We had a parking procedure in place for a long time that the last person out the door at midnight parked in a specific spot where the security camera could see that person leave the building, walk to their car, and get in.

      Some newbie staff members were constantly parking in that spot, which meant one of two things – the midnight person had to use one of their breaks to move their car after that staff member left, or if that staff member forgot to move their car, they had to walk 500 metres in the dark to the staff carpark with no cameras at all.

      I wanted her to speak to the newbie staff members and ask them not to park in that spot. So I explained the situation and stated quite plainly what I wanted her to do. She did not understand what I was talking about.

      So, I figured, maybe I’m explaining this badly. That does happen to me on occasion. I gave it another try, coming at it from another angle. Before she became manager, we’d had a jail escapee steal one of the staff cars. She’d been told about that by other staff, so I reminded her of that event, and then said, this is one reason the parking procedure was put in place.

      She then said “What parking procedure? We don’t have a parking procedure.” I resisted the urge to bang my head on her desk.

      I said yes, we do have a parking procedure. I explained it a third time, very slowly, and very carefully. She still did not understand. It was at that point I realised, it is not my explaining that is the problem here. She simply could not comprehend that we had a procedure in place – I’m guessing because she did not put it in place herself.

      Nor could she understand why having a staff member walk 500m in the dark would be a problem. She said, and I quote “I always walk to my car in the staff carpark when it is time to go home, it is perfectly safe”. Perhaps that had something to do with the fact that she was always out of the door exactly at 5pm, at that time it is always daylight here, and even though she kept promising she would come in for a night shift once to get an understanding of what it was like, she never followed through on that promise.

      In the end, because she was unable to understand the issue I went to speak to the owner of the business, who immediately sent out an email clarifying the parking procedure. I only had to explain it to him once. The newbies stopped parking there, problem solved. And I never, ever, raised an issue or sent an email to that manager again. I just went around her because it was quicker and easier. She did not last very long in that job anyway.

  37. Macedon

    Yeah, it’s a bit of a lingo relic.

    Happily, haven’t dealt with ‘please advise’ outside of corresponding with legal counsel. For some reason, we’re constantly begging our lawyer to (pretty) please (and only should the stars align to create no personal inconvenience to him) advise (on this legal matter with respect to which we’re paying him a hefty fee). Sometimes we feel particularly cheeky and switch it up to ‘kindly advise’.

  38. Mockingjay

    In my job, emails are often used as official business communiques. Even more frequently, the recipient will forward an email up the chain, unbeknownst to the author. So I write all my emails in a formal, succinct manner.

    The formality reflects my work environment. I do use IM chats for quick questions.

    (I won’t get into the aggravating colleague who copies the boss on EVERY (sorry for the shouty capitals) email exchange between us, which is another reason why my emails resemble business letters – I look more professional than she.)

    1. Mockingjay

      Oh, and our organization likes to close emails with Very Respectfully. Being a defense agency, an acronym was created: V/r

  39. Delyssia

    I find this thread fascinating. I use “Please advise” every so often, and I think I basically use it as a step up from “Let me know what you think.” Specifically, for “Let me know what you think,” I would consider a lack of preference an acceptable answer.

    Me: Here’s a selection of potential images for the brochure. Let me know what you think.
    Boss: They’re all fine, I don’t have any real preference.
    Me: OK, I’ll pick some and have a draft for you to review next week.

    I would use “Please advise” where I need a definite answer.

    Me: I haven’t heard back about who should be the signatory on this document. Please advise.
    Boss: We need to have Horatio sign it.

  40. Merry and Bright

    Although “Please advise” can seem a bit blunt on its own, like most things it does depend on context and culture. I don’t use it myself but that is because in most places I have worked it is used to end emails from managers or directors. They tend to ping out emails on the hoof: “Just heard that Wakeen has a problem with the Lid Committee. Please advise.”

    So I just associate it with management instructions.

  41. Revanche

    Huh. I’ve received “what are your thoughts?” / “please advise” / “do you have input/feedback?” and all of them seemed appropriate to the situation. Often I see “please advise” on an “I just described a hilariously tangled or annoying situation” email and it generally translates to “I don’t even know. what the hell? And what should I do next?” to me. I generally think that’s a fair assessment by the writer, so maybe that’s why it rarely annoys me. The only times it does, it’s not because of the phrase, it’s because of the person using the phrase. They’ve usually established themselves as ineffective and rude, and in those cases, nothing they say will be not-annoying :)

  42. thisisit

    i think i use all the examples described so far, and it’s not really my problem if you find them annoying. :D
    no seriously, when you send a lot of emails to lots of people needing input, decisions, updates, etc, you have few options to close your email, so you trot these out often. especially when the situations are complicated, and tbese are not people you are frequently emailing.

    my pet peeve is when people say “please advice”. Aaaaaarrrrrrggggggghhhhhhhhh!

    1. Delyssia

      Annoyingly, Outlook will put the green squiggle under “advise” in the phrase “Please advise” and will suggest “advice” instead. So I would just go ahead and blame Outlook every time you see that.

    2. AW

      You mean out loud?

      I don’t think I’ve heard anyone actually say “Please advise” outside of radio dispatch conversations.

  43. Dawn88

    If using “Please advise” gets you that upset to spend paragraphs complaining about it, it sounds like you need a serious vacation.

    Or let someone else unemployed for months have your job instead? I would be happy to hear irritating, stupid stuff all day, if I was getting paid.

  44. Amber Rose

    I’ve now defaulted to “kind regards” for every single email regardless of content. It’s super formal feeling, but I’m told that literally everything else will be misinterpreted by someone.

    1. Windchime

      I’m guessing someone will chime in here and have a problem with “kind regards”. It seems like, no matter what, there are phrases that really tick some people off.

    2. AMG

      I hate when people type ‘Kind Regards’.

      Just kidding. I sign my emails with ‘Regards’ all the time.

    1. Grey

      That one really irritates me too. It’s like saying, “I won’t be thanking you after you’ve done the work.”

    2. thisisit

      I use that one when I have a long list of requests for someone. It’s shorthand for “I acknowledge that I’m asking a lot of you, and I am really grateful that you are doing this especially since I’m not paying you and it’s probably a big inconvenience.”
      But I do thank them afterwards too.

      1. Grey

        Sure, but it presumes that they’ll agree to your request. It reads to me like, “I expect you do to this”.

        I’d go for something like, “I’d appreciate your help in this matter”.

        1. thisisit

          oh, that’s a good clarifying point. it’s only used when i know they’ll do it. usually it’s tasks related to a larger thing they’ve agreed to. as an example, someone is speaking at an event, for which we don’t pay for, but reimburse for. they have to book their own travel (through our agent), send me slides in advance, be available for some conference calls, etc. so once they agree to speak, i send the email to all the speakers with all the additional tasks, and say thank you in advance, as an acknowledgement of all the things i just told them to do.

          if it’s not a foregone conclusion, then no i wouldn’t thank them in advance, because that wouldn’t make sense.

      2. Ellie H.

        I write stuff like “I appreciate any information you are able to provide!” etc. Even when I would appreciate the complete info I am asking for much more than just any information. It just seems more polite. I think I’ve probably written “Thanks so much in advance” too but more when it’s part of a longer exchange where the other person has already suggested the thing I’m now saying “Yes, please do that” to, not just cold.

    3. Beezus

      Yeah, it’s annoying to me for that reason, too. When I see it, I interpret it as, “I don’t expect you to have any objections or questions to this, so the next thing I should be sending you is my thanks to you for letting me know it’s done, and I’m just going to get that out of the way right now.” I make allowances in my head for the possibility that the sender doesn’t actually mean that, but I always give a little mental “grrr” when I see it. If the sender shows signs of taking my work for granted in other ways, or is just generally annoying, sometimes the “grrr” is mentally capitalized, bolded, italicized, and/or underlined. Possibly in red Killer font.

    4. nona

      “Thank you in advance” is completely fine when I’m being asked to do something that I actually can do.

      Otherwise it drives me up the wall.

  45. Kateyjl

    I’ll use “Please advise” when forwarding a question from one party to another when I don’t know what question needs to be asked. I’m a conduit for information but don’t have all the answers. Often times, I presented with a lot of data that I don’t know what to do with it. Hence, the “please advise”.

    We all have to remember that our way is not the only way. Some people are more formal than others. Some don’t want to take any responsibility.

  46. Artemesia

    Certain phrases set me off too. In international travel forums British nationals often ask a question about hotels or restaurants or whatever with ‘I require a XYZ’ — to me ‘I require’ sounds demanding and entitled and always evokes mild hostility in me. I assume since it is done so often that it is just a common formal phrase used in this culture. (they also talk about ‘how many sleeps it will be until they do this or that which to me is cloying baby talk — but then so is brekky, prezzie and many other phrases the British are fond of. I am sure we have plenty of equally annoying locutions)

    In social settings the phrase ‘fix a plate’ as in the wife should ‘fix a plate for her husband’ at buffets makes me see red because it is so integral to subcultures where women are subservient. Of course I fixed my husband a plate when he was seeing to the kids, or otherwise engaged but otherwise, why would a man not fix his own dang plate.

    PLease advise wouldn’t set me off if it were in the context of we have looked at XY and Z what is your take? It would if they had already asked the questions and this was just a ‘gentle reminder.’

    1. thisisit

      I require = I need.

      I heard “sleeps” used all the time in the US – I think it’s a weird phrase.

      FWIW, the overuse of the word “like” is probably the most annoying Americanism. Second is – and I swear this is just coincidence and not meant specifically towards you – how Americans can’t get that other English-speaking nations slang that sounds perfectly fine to them.

      1. thisisit

        *…other English-speaking nations have their own usage or slang…

        [don’t know where the rest of that sentence went]

      2. Artemesia

        I require has a very different feel to me from I need — I require implies that dang it, I need this and you better give it to me. Very special me.

        I have ever heard Americans use the baby talk ‘it is just 5 sleeps until we arrive at Disney World’ but I suppose they will pick it up since it is used so often by British travelers on line.

        And of course I understand and noted in my OP that other English speaking nations use slang that is different from ours and sounds perfectly normal to them just as ours sounds annoying. It is like personal space. We KNOW that some cultures crowd up and breath down your neck; we KNOW in our heads that it is a cultural difference — this does not prevent the visceral reaction to being crowded that people who ‘require’ more personal space feel.

        1. ZSD

          We also have to remind ourselves that people from some cultures require *more* personal space than Americans do! I met some Icelandic people who complained about how uncomfortably close Americans stood.

          1. Min

            I’m an American living in the UK and I can’t even count how many times someone has walked me across a room because I keep backing away as they enter my personal space while talking to me. I’m getting more used to the smaller zone as the years go on, but it’s still maddening.

        2. Ellie H.

          I really don’t think “sleeps” is a Britishism. I agree it is affected, cloying, baby talk etc. (not to mention weird sounding) but I feel like I’ve at least equally if not much moreso heard it from Americans (online, not aloud).

        3. thisisit

          yes, but your reaction to it doesn’t necessarily reflect the reality of it. you are reacting to “i require” when it’s being used as “i need”. because that’s how it is used.

          “sleeps” is possibly an Aussie thing? as is brekky, I think.

      3. Merry and Bright

        In the nicest possible way, this made me smile because “like” is pretty common in the UK as well though mostly with younger people.

        I have also heard children use “sleeps”, as in “only 3 sleeps till my birthday.”

      4. Cath in Canada

        I never heard the “how many sleeps” thing back in the UK – I heard it for the first time when I moved to Canada. It does seem a bit babyish, but I usually hear it used in an “OMG I am so EXCITED about my upcoming fun event!” way that is a bit more forgiving than if it was being used, say, to countdown to a work conference or something like that.

    2. Windchime

      My grandmother (who was born in 1912 in Oklahoma) once said at a family buffet dinner, “My lands, shouldn’t we serve the menfolk first?” because people were lining up to fill their plates. I think we all just laughed and said, “They’ll be OK, grandma”. But seriously? Serve the menfolk first? They haven’t been out plowing the fields; they’ve been sitting under the picnic shelter in the shade with the rest of us!

      1. Artemesia

        Yes, my grandmother who was born in the late 1800s as a young woman worked in the field all day and then at lunch break the men stretched out under a tree while she and other women served them lunch and then everyone went back to work.

  47. Ann O'Nemity

    I use “please advise” sparingly, and only in the following two situations:

    (1) You have dropped the ball and it’s become my problem. Please advise.
    (2) I don’t know what to do and I’m making it your problem. Please advise.

  48. Minstrel Boy

    God knows I can relate to “pet peeves” – I have more of them than most people, probably, and I bristle at language that is unnecessarily rude – but in truth, business email tends to use a lot of words, phrases, and conventions that really aren’t intended to be rude, or friendly, or have any emotional spin to them at all – they’re used to convey a concept. Nobody sits there and thinks “Okay, how can I let them know that I really need to hear back from them on this?” They just type “Please advise.” This is what language is all about, really. And you could argue that “business email” is its own special little dialect.

    I suspect it’d be relatively easy to write a “business email assist” function that would help people compose nicer, clearer, more consistent emails. But people tend to not like such things. Look what they did to poor MS Clippy!

    If I have one grievance to file about business email, it would be that I wish people wouldn’t use words that they don’t understand. I’m not religious and I’m certainly not a Scientologist but the one thing they got right is that they insist that people know what a word means. Ie, if you’re reading along and you encounter a word you don’t understand, you drop everything and look it up, right then and there. And with current technology, this is pretty easy to do. I think the world would be a somewhat nicer place if everyone did this.

  49. C Average

    I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about phrases like this that bugs me. I mean, intellectually, I agree with everyone who’s said “you’re overthinking this.” But I can’t STOP overthinking it and want to know why I’m overthinking it to begin with.

    I think that phrases that only occur in print, like this one, lend themselves really well to misreading and speculation because we’ve never heard another person utter them out loud and for that reason can only speculate on the tone.

    I prefer to use phrases like “thoughts?” or “can you help me with this?” or “I’d love your opinion on this” just because they’re phrases I could deliver aloud, in real life, with a straight face. I’d never say to another person, “Please advise.”

    I tend to write like I talk, and I really, really try to avoid any written phrases that don’t scan like normal speech. (Unlike a lot of other people, I’m not particularly against jargon, because I speak it fluently and often!)

    1. afiendishthingy

      That makes sense to me. I don’t think I’ve ever written “please advise” or received an email that ended this way, so it surprised me that so many people have such strong opinions on it. It does sound stilted, but not “bratty and redundant” to me.

  50. Stranger than fiction

    Want to hear the craziest email pet peeve? I had a coworker that used to ignore my emails about half the time so one day I asked her why. She said “because it didn’t have a question”
    So I guess that’s why I’m defend about the Please advise thing.

    After that I made sure all her emails had double question marks which probably also would drive some people crazy but I didn’t care what she thought at that point and hey I got more responses after that.

    1. C Average

      I have to admit I’m looped in on a lot of emails that make me think, “Uhhhh . . . is this FYI, or is there a question or task buried somewhere in here for me?”

      I’m good at sussing this out now, but for the first year I was in this role, I found it really challenging. Sometimes I’d be copied in as a courtesy, other times someone was expecting an answer from me, and sometimes I was supposed to understand that I should NOT reply even if I knew the answer (because of the political implications of the message, the people on the email chain, etc.).

      I managed to screw up pretty regularly in the third category, which led to me being pretty gun-shy about replying at all unless I was explicitly asked a question or given an action item. Also, just the sheer volume of email I got made it necessary to adopt some kind of triage system, and people who plainly asked for what they wanted from me always got priority.

      I’m not crazy about “please advise”–it’s a vague and strangely worded request–but at least it’s a request!

      1. Ellie H.

        Me too. Early in my job I would give people way, WAY more information than necessary in emails before I realized that this can be offensive and it’s almost always better to use the minimum information necessary for clarity (not that that is necessarily easy to determine, but as a goal).

        I’m in grad school now and definitely retain the “as brief as possible” email ethos which some of my fellow students really do not, and I wonder if it comes off as abrupt (and I’ve always been on the more prolix side of email writing, too!)

        1. Snoskred

          EllieH – Me too. I am way too informative. This is why I learned to use “Would you like to know more (about this)?” especially in conversation but it works for emails too.

          When you ask the question, it gives people a chance to decide if they want to know more, or not. I never, ever, take a no answer personally. Sometimes I’ve had people reply with “Do I need to know more?” or “Is there more?” and then we can have a conversation about that, rather than me give them a long monologue without checking in with them first to make sure they want to know more.

      2. Anonymouse

        This! My last supervisor would copy me on everything, and most times the emails didn’t have a question directly related to me so I wouldn’t respond. This got me into trouble so many times. She would ask why I hadn’t responded or done X yet, and I would say that I didn’t know that I needed to.

        When I’m sending one email to three or four people, I try to clarify who is copied on the email and why (and if it’s an FYI and no action is needed from that person, I say that), and if I have questions for separate people, I put them on to: field and in the body of the email state the questions like so:

        Jane: What’s the status regarding this meeting?

        Bobby: Jane and I spoke, and we had a question about X.

        FYI, I copied Sue into the conversation as she’s working on Y so I wanted to keep her looped in.

        That way, I hope, people know why they’re on the email and if they need to respond back.

  51. Dallas

    I once had a relatively high ranking political official email me and ask me why I was trying to ruin his career. He ended the email with “please advise”. So now, any time I use that, it makes me laugh.

    1. Not So NewReader

      You must be a pretty powerful person to single-handedly derail someone’s political career. I am impressed. :)

      1. Dallas

        Well, to be fair, I was trying to derail his political career. He wasn’t wrong.

        I replied: “Yes.”

  52. Alice

    This is so interesting…I recently had a discussion about this very phrase with a coworker and we had completely different opinions on it.

    At my first job out of college, “please advise” was only ever used in emails to point out to someone that they missed a deadline or made a mistake. It was never a genuine question. It was almost like a rhetorical statement, since we all already knew the mistake had been made or the deadline had been missed. It was generally used when copying someone’s boss to point out said mistake (and maybe even copying one’s team members as well). There was pretty much no correct response you could give. So I only associate this phrase with mistakes and anxiety, plus a little bit of public humiliation thrown in for good measure (this wasn’t the greatest office environment!).

    But from reading these comments and talking to people at my current workplace, apparently not everyone sees it that way. But it definitely still sets off a trigger for me!

  53. nicole

    “Please advise” doesn’t annoy me and I use it myself much the same as Katie The Fed explained in her comment. The phrase that I always hated was “make sense?” at the end of an email from a former Director. As if I’m a) too stupid to understand her and b) need to be asked or apparently I would have otherwise not said anything if I didn’t understand??? She could have wrote “let me know if you have any questions” and I wouldn’t have been offended at all. But that whole “make sense?” stuff irked me. I made sure I never ever used it in my own emails.

    1. Bend & Snap

      Early in my career I had a boss who would act super confused when I made a mistake. “We talked about x but you did y, and I’m really confused about how that happened.” With furrowed brow and head tilt.

      “Make sense?” Doesn’t bother me much after that.

    2. Wakeen's Teapots Ltd.

      I use that a fair amount but I use it collaboration, when I’ve formed a plan and want to run it by one or two others because I literally want to know if my plan makes sense.

      “This weekend I decided to reorder the teapot lid process from Z to A, rather than A to Z because (insert reasons). Make sense?”

      I agree that using it the opposite way irritates. The opposite way is: knoweldgabley explain something “factual” and then use “make sense?” to see if the other person is following you.

    3. afiendishthingy

      Uh oh. I don’t say “make sense?” in emails but I do say it when explaining something to employees in person. But I think I mean more “did I explain that in a way that makes sense” than “are you smart enough to understand this”.

    4. comfyslippers

      I used to work with someone who always put “clear as mud?” at the end of emails that were, in fact, quite clear.

  54. Sage

    I’d never used the phrase “please advise” at the end of an e-mail until Current Job. (FWIW, I was hired for job X and ended up doing job Y –much more time consuming, and punching well above my pay grade — because the work is a PITA, and I didn’t know any better. The rest of my team backed away slowly when the work landed on my lap.)

    Current Job involves getting buy-in and approvals from various far-flung parts of Big Bank whose employees are generally overworked, overwhelmed, or just don’t know/care about Current Job, because Big Bank manages crisis-to-crisis without ever resolving underlying structural issues because hey, why should they? I frequently have to exchange e-mails with attorneys who are fairly high up the food chain. Almost nothing makes me grind my teeth more. They’re collectively the absolute worst when it comes to following up on e-mails… because they never read them. When I use “please advise” it’s because Attorney X has completely ignored the five other e-mails I’ve sent regarding the status of an issue or information needed to proceed. It’s my way of succinctly saying “Listen up, you pompous twit… this is the fifth and last time I’m going to respond to something that you were supposed to handle three weeks ago. Ball’s in your court.” It almost never registers.

  55. PizzaSquared

    I’ve already posted something like four comments in this thread, which is kind of amazing since I don’t think I’ve ever consciously considered my thoughts on “please advise” before. But obviously it struck a nerve with me, because I’ve been thinking about it all day.

    One other thing that occurred to me is that it comes across as robotic or cold in some situations. I feel like it’s very similar to replying to an email and saying “Message received” or “acknowledged.” Yes, technically those are fine, but in the places I’ve worked, it would be a very odd tone to take. Just as I’m used to people replying with something like “Great, thanks!” or “Ok, no problem” rather than “acknowledged,” I’m used to people ending emails with “what do you think?” or “is it ok if we do X?” not “please advise.”

    1. Lindsay J

      I sometimes wish I could use 10-4 in emails (to mean recieved and understood). I recieve emails like shipping updates a lot of the time and I’ve defaulted to saying “Thanks!” because I don’t know what else to say, even though there’s not really anything I’m thanking them for. But saying “recieved,” or “acknowledged” seems cold and robotic and something like “Got it!” would work except that I don’t want them to think I’ve literally gotten the package.

      1. EvaR

        Yeah, I never know what to do when you get something and “Thanks!” isn’t really appropriate as a reply, but there isn’t really much to say in reply. For awhile, I used “Ten-four!” with another manager as kind of a joke to let her know I got a message, but it doesn’t really work with everyone. My current manager is really fond of the smiley faces in outlook, so I have a rule button that replies to messages with just a smiley face. This is another one of those things that is difficult via email but easy face to face.

  56. Victoria, Please

    I alwaya say “friendly reminder.” If necessary it becomes “friendly but urgent!” To me, it’s off puttingly brusque to say, “reminder, I need this by friday,” or “your veeblefitz report is late, I need it asap.” But then, I’m from the Say-outh, where we use lots of words to hide displeasure.

  57. Barney Stinson

    I always get back with the tardy person and ask them if they need something else/anything before they can reply.

    Example: “Just checking in to see if there’s anything else you need from me so you can complete the [thing you haven’t sent back to me].”

    I like it because they might actually need something before they complete and return the thing I need; if not, it’s a memory jog that doesn’t automatically assume they’re not on the ball.

  58. Tempest of Teapots

    I use “Please Advise” as a last ditch effort to obtain a response from a decision maker in my company’s corporate office. Often, one person or department will need to make a decision that effects my clients. If my calls and emails have been ignored, I will politely include this phrase. If a client needs something, and a person in a cubicle at home office is holding up the matter, I have no problem using it succinctly, but nicely. It definitely gets results. I’d never use it with a peer, manager, or client whom I interact with frequently, as they are simply more responsive to client needs. Not all jobs are client-facing however, so it may not be appropriate for all industries. But if you’re my client and you need something, I will do my best to get you an answer, even if I have to be a bit sharp in tone. Back-office folks are often out of touch with what client relationships mean.

  59. Jennifer

    My boss uses this and tells me to use it. I think it sounds a little formal, but not offensive, so this letter surprises me a bit.

    1. Van Wilder

      Not a fan. I will assume it’s friendly if you say “just a reminder”. No need to be weirdly deferential.

  60. Poster formerly known as Jane Doe

    AHHHHH. I hate please advise! I think the reason I hate it though is because usually, it’s not my job to advise the people who are asking me to advise them. I always felt like my reaction was unreasonable, but it’s definitely a strong one!

  61. Episkey

    Yikes, I learned to do this when I worked in a law firm and often end emails this way. I don’t mean to be condescending or snarky at all, I thought I was being deferentially polite. I hope not many people feel like the OP about it!

  62. Van Wilder

    Nothing is worse than the evil “Thanks in advance.” To me it reads “That was not a request!” (Or, they just don’t know better.)

  63. FiveByFive

    Wow, that’s a strong reaction to a simple and standard email closing! OP, yes, you are definitely interpreting it differently than it is intended. I admit I’ve never heard of this interpretation of that closing.

    1. FiveByFive

      Ok, whoops. I’m a little behind. My screen said zero comments when I posted that. Need to use the refresh button a bit more frequently. :)

  64. AVH

    This is such an interesting conversation. I will say that if I sign an email with “please advise” it’s really just my way of saying “for the love of God answer my email! Why am I having to ask you for the same thing multiple times??!!” Using “please advise” is my office-appropriate way of telling someone they’re on my list.

  65. Ezra

    Many people in my company use Please Advise, so I’m barely phased by it now. I used to think it was extremely formal and cold, but now it has no affect on me because it is used so freakin’ often.

    I receive emails a lot from Indian English speakers and they often use the phrase “Please do the needful” or “Kindly do the needful” which at first I thought seemed rude, but now I see that it’s just their way of saying that phrase.

    Personally, I never end my emails with “Please advise.” It just is not my style and I don’t like how extremely formal it feels. I’m more likely to say, “Please let me know your thoughts.”

  66. la Contessa

    I loved “please advise” when I had to ask clients what they wanted me to do next. If you didn’t give a specific direction for how you want them to respond (“Please advise if I have authority to do X, and let me know if you have any questions.”) the only response you would get was, “Thanks!” That is less than helpful when you need authority to do something ASAP.

    That said, I would never use “please advise” without more to the sentence. It reads as abrupt to me.

  67. Labyrinthine

    The one that drives me nuts is “VR.” Don’t ask why, it makes no logical sense, it just makes my skin crawl.

  68. mel

    I don’t think it’s such a terrible phrase until someone inevitably writes “please advice”.

    It’s alarming how much I see that and I don’t even receive emails nor work in an office. Just… no.

  69. Faith

    I frequently use that phrase. On can ask questions in an email and never get a reply, so I make sure they realize I expect a reply. In a perfect world, I wouldn’t need it.

    At times, I have described a situation and don’t bother with Qs since I need advice on how to proceed (usually politically dangerous situations).

    There are many things to get upset about, but this doesn’t strike me as a hill worth dieing on.

  70. Hooptie

    I use ‘please review and advise’ quite frequently, but for two types of situations:

    1 – I need direction from my boss
    2 – I am sending a communication to our executive team and will need their thoughts on how to proceed

    If I put ‘FYI’ instead, they know they don’t need to reply to me.

    Maybe I’m doing it all wrong, but it works for us.

  71. wth

    OP needs to chill. I can’t see anything remotely annoying in the phrase though I don’t use it myself.

    Labyrinthine – One of my coworkers uses VR. He told me it was standard while he was in the military. Stands for “very respectfully”.

  72. Kristina A.

    The original poster sounds like an arrogant primadonna. Who cares if someone writes “please advise”, I honestly doubt they are including it to annoy you. You obviously understand what they are saying but choose to read more of a personal message into it. I agree with the response, the person is merely probably wrapping up the email.

    So basically, get over yourself and “please advise”. I’m hoping you have more important things to worry about.

  73. KH

    Man, I can’t stand when people use “please advise” – but it is a lot more tolerable if they clearly state in the message specifically what action they want me to take.

    Most of the time it’s more junior staff and they don’t realize the annoying-ness. I usually can get improvement by coaching them on this.

  74. EvaR

    I use “Please Advise” constantly when I have no idea what the actual question would normally be.

    Like “We had someone call from a company trying to sell us a bridge, so I took their name and number and told them someone from the bridge purchasing department would call them back. This is the sixth call this week that I’ve had from someone selling architectural features. Please advise.”

    I guess I could take the time to type out “Would you like me to continue doing this in the future? Is there a long term way to get people to stop giving us unsolicited sales calls? Did we actually want to purchase this item? Would you have done something different? Just thought maybe you should be aware that this is happening.” but “Please Advise” means all of those things.

    Then again, I fire up the imaginary laser vision whenever people use “In Regards to” instead of “In regard to” or even better “regarding.” So I guess everyone has pet peeves.

  75. Scott

    To me the ‘please advise when done’ or words to that effect; suggest to me they are implying I don’t have the manners or common sense to respond with their results or let them know when tasks are complete; when it’s an absolute pre requisite that I will reply with the answer or information they want.
    It’s totally redundant and not necessary. Makes my blood boil.
    I delete it from their email before responding.

  76. PC

    Every time I get an email that ends with “please advise” I want to send one back that says “I advise you to stop ending your emails with please advise!” That is the most annoying phrase ever!

  77. AllanBB

    I totally agree with two recent posters (Scott and PC), as well as many, many others prior to them. I hate the phrase. I find it offensive and passive-aggressive. I interpret it in one of the following ways:
    1. “I think you’re too stupid to realize that I’ve asked you a question and I want an answer.”
    2. “This is now off of my plate until I hear from you (tag…you’re it).”
    3. “I’m too stupid to even attempt to determine what the next course of action might be, so I’m not even going to suggest anything.”
    I always take the time to phrase my response as, “I advise you to…” Actually, if any of my direct reports use it, I ask what they mean by it. They are rarely, if ever, able to clearly articulate their reason(s) and at that point, I ask them to please refrain from using it in communicating with me.

  78. Joe

    Ok, I know it’s old but…
    “Please Advise”
    In business use the phrase becomes an additional command. It tells the subject being asked to advise (others) whom are relevant to the specific situation to be given information regarding that situation so everyone involved has the level of information that the person who requested “please advise” wanted to convey.
    It’s common radio etiquette when you don’t want to reveal to everyone on that channel sensitive information regarding your business. “Please advise” let’s the recipients know that they are to pass on a certain piece of information that they should already have a previous understanding of to certain other people of interest without the risk of contamination by outside sources.
    It is a broad, general term, however, it can be very meaningful and thorough.
    I think in the emails in this discussion the term is almost used out of context due to the “monkey see, monkey do” concept. It looks smart to they forward the email and pass the phrase down Jacobs Ladder.
    Or… someone is just trying to convey some type of information to a group of people using intermediaries so they don’t have to micromanage every department… like the district manager to the dept. managers. Please advise (your dept.) of these changes.

  79. Scott

    Just had an email saying another comment had been left. I can’t see it however the email had the comment.
    Author: Douglas
    Comment:
    How about “Friendly reminder”? Is that better?

    Ummmmmmm. No. That’s almost threatening. Like. If I have to remind you again, it won’t be so friendly.
    Terrible.

    On the ‘please advise’ thing. I have found that simply putting ‘are you able to help me resolve this? ‘ is far gentler and is a little more personal – if you must put something at the end of the query.

    Even better still.
    Simply state the query, such as.

    We have ‘x’ cost on the system. Our supplier says it is now ‘y’.
    Could this be confirmed either way to help my order progress please?

    That would make me investigate accordingly and resolve as applicable and reply with details of any action taken.

    Putting ‘please advise’ instead of the second sentence would incline me to respond with something like.

    I advise that the order is held and you request an investigation.

    ‘please advise ‘ to me is still quite demanding and says. I have no clue and no inclination to do anything else. Sort it!

  80. Anon Employee who tears up when frustrated.

    Ugh, I cried once at work and ever since, my manager always sends me “gentle reminders” whenever I make an error.

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