Lindsay McMahon
"The English Adventurer"

Do you write a lot of business emails in English?

Do you often say “please” multiple times in your business English emails?

When you repeat the word “please” five times in a business English email, it can sound repetitive.

It can also lose its effectiveness.

There are other things you can say to express your appreciation in English.

Listen in on today’s episode as Lindsay and Michelle share with you deep English advice on overusing English words to sound polite in business.

Question from Fabiana

Lindsay shares that one of their students from their Business English group has sent a question that inspired today’s episode.

She will discuss, along with Michelle, the answer to the question which is related to the overuse of the word “please.”

Here is the question from Fabiana:

Hi Lindsay, I just heard the episode about the use of “Thank you in advance.”

This was an alert for me because I use it often, and in my mind I was always being kind.

I’ve never wondered about the other side! From now on, I will pay more attention to decide when to use it!

Still talking about email, I would like to know your opinion about the use of “please”.

I tend to use “please” more than one time in an email (especially when I am asking for more than one thing), even when what I’m asking is related to the person’s job.

Sometimes I use “please” at the beginning and use bullets to ask for what is needed, but sometimes for some reason, this is not possible.

So, my question is: How can I be kind when I am asking people to do something via email, without overusing please?

Thank youFabiana

This is a great question.

Fabiana is using English in her work and Lindsay and Michelle will be answering her question. This will also help a lot of listeners who are using English in a business setting.

The episode that Fabiana was referring to was the podcast episode 1726: Please Listen. Thanks in Advance.

Can You Overuse the Word Please?

Lindsay asks Michelle if it’s possible to overuse the word “please.” Michelle says yes, it is possible to overuse it.

There is a tendency to overuse the words to show respect or politeness, especially in a formal setting like in business.

It is important to be nice and polite but it can always be too much.

This is also possible in email, writing or even in conversation.

These words that show politeness, aside from “please” are “thank you, sorry, excuse me” and many others.

Lindsay adds that the overuse of a word makes it meaningless. If you keep saying please, your co-workers will not see that it matters because you keep using it in every correspondence you send.

Michelle agrees with Lindsay. Her advice is that you can still use “please” more than once but make sure to keep it separated.

Maybe one “please” at the beginning and then another “please” later in the email or somewhere towards the end.

To the part where Fabiana asks if it’s necessary to say “please” when you are asking for something that is part of the person’s job, Lindsay and Michelle say that it’s nice to be nice.

But then again, don’t overuse it so that it doesn’t sound so repetitive.

Showing you are competent and confident at work is important and being overly polite may show that you may be unsure of what you are doing.

How to Say Please Without Saying Please

Lindsay and Michelle share a few expressions you can use as an alternative to saying “please.”

This will give you more options and diversity for asking favors or requesting for help from your colleagues.

  • When you get a chance

“When you get a chance, could you send over those numbers?”

  • If you don’t mind

“If you don’t mind, I’d love to meet with you at noon to discuss this.”

  • If you could X, that would be great.

“If you could finish that report by 3pm, that would be great.”

  • I’d appreciate it if you could…

“I’d appreciate it if you could call some of our clients for feedback today.”

All these examples serve the same purpose as please.

These still show that you are asking politely and professionally.

Michelle asks Lindsay if these expressions can only be used if you are the boss.

Lindsay says no, anyone can use these phrases and she recommends everyone use them.

She shares that she uses these expressions with the All Ears English team.

These phrases are a nice way to ask for jobs or tasks to be done.

There is no need to be forceful.

Whatever position you hold in a company, you still have to work together and will need help from one another.

Michelle adds that you can sprinkle in “thank you” in emails to show your appreciation.

Another thing you can consider when determining how to ask for something in an email, is the context and even who you are asking the favor from.

All of these factors will help you determine what phrase to use.

Takeaway

Fabiana’s question has provided us with good insight on how to be polite in our work without repetitively using words like “please” and “thank you.”

Overusing words can downplay the value of your message.

It is always better to be nice and err on the side of politeness but then don’t overdo it.

You still want to show you are confident in what you do so that your colleagues trust and depend on you more.

Lindsay and Michelle have shared examples that you can use in replacement of “please.”

What other words do you think you overuse?

Share it in the comments down below and we can might be able to make another episode to help you out.

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