1. “Sorry To Be A Burden/Bother”
This is a passive-aggressive line. In most cases, the person doesn’t think they’re being a burden or a bother at all. Typically, they’re employing this phrase to get the attention (and maybe sympathy or pity) of the reader. They assume that this approach will elicit a compassionate response from the receiver.
Instead, say: “Thank you for being patient with me.”
This indicates responsibility for whatever it is that’s taking place, and is far more likely to be met with a generous response and maybe even the reassurance that it’s not a problem. And if you really do need a response ASAP, this is the best way to get a follow-up fast.
2. “Whatever You Think”
Assuming you’ve requested input and someone responds with suggestions or alternatives to your ideas, these three seemingly harmless words convey your annoyance and frustration in spades. In other words, you were looking for reinforcement, not criticism.
Instead, say: “I’m open to your ideas and am happy to do some more brainstorming.”
This demonstrates that you have an active interest in finding a solution that’s agreeable and appropriate. There’s really never a time time that “whatever you think” is read as a flexible and accepting statement. It doesn’t suggest that you’re willing to be a team player; it sounds like you’re miffed that your idea wasn’t accepted without question. Don’t be that self-righteous person.
3. “Please Advise”
It’s formal and a little bit demanding. Furthermore, it doesn’t open up the discussion, but rather indicates that you don’t have time for this and just need clear instructions on next steps fast.
Instead, say: “Let me know if you have any thoughts on how to proceed with this.”
Reframing the response like this encourages engagement and an open dialogue. You’re essentially saying that you’re open to the other person’s opinions on the matter, but are also okay figuring out a workaround yourself if that’s preferable.
4. “I Hope It’s More To Your Liking”
The person saying this probably thinks the “original” was just fine, but made adjustments to make someone else happy. The comment insinuates he/she probably saw no need to make modifications in the first place.
Instead, say: “I’m interested in your feedback on this update.”
Being open to hearing feedback, even if you suspect it may not be 100% positive, is a crucial part of improving and advancing. We can all stand to make adjustments from time to time based on constructive criticism. Even if you’re not actually super interested per se, put on your best game face and embrace the feedback.
None of us are perfect or always know exactly what to say, but sometimes it’s a simple matter of thinking before you speak and asking yourself if what you’re about to say can possibly be construed in the wrong way. Momentarily offending someone to get through your own to-do list won’t do you any good in the long run.
Source: The Muse (Feb. 6, 2017)