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For years, I have used the following technique to ask for a status update for requests I have made. If I have not received a response after at least 48 hours and normally more, I sent the following email:

Please send a status update for this request. Thanks

If sometimes I am in a more polite mood and ask this way:

Would you please send a status update for this request. Thanks

In the last week, I have been received feedback from my manager and company director that this wording

seem kind of rude, aggressive

and

please check your tone in emails going to our client and the tone seems more like the tone of someone who works for you, not someone who pays your salary

How would you recommend I ask for a status update in a more professional, polite, and sensitive way?

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    A phone call is always better than a mail, and less prone to poor interpretations. – Tiago Cardoso May 5 at 16:08
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    @TiagoCardoso phone calls are disruptive. Emails, on the other hand, allow the recipient to read and reply at their convenience. – HorusKol May 5 at 21:28
  • @HorusKol, although I agree phone calls are disruptive, the whole mail-centered culture is one of the biggest pains at work nowadays. IMMV, but if someone is too busy for an unplanned call, then setting 15 min in their agenda with a proper meeting invitation "follow up on topic XYZ" would still be better (and way more effective). – Tiago Cardoso May 5 at 22:06
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What I frequently would use, quite informally:

Hey, is there any news on my request?

This basically asks for the same thing, but sounds quite less demanding. I also think it is useful to ask concrete questions, including why it is important for you.

We are currently blocked by this issue, do you think the bugfix will be deployed this week?

Or

I would like to incorporate your plan in my presentation on Monday. Do you think you can send it by Friday, so that I can still include it?

  • Totally spot on, you are dealing with a person not a machine. Make the email sound like you are communicating with a person who has feelings and has a "relationship" with you...however plutonic it might be. Would you ask for a coffee and then ask the barista for a status report on your coffee? – mutt May 6 at 11:07
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Maybe a few variations of this? " Hi ,

I hope you are doing well. I am writing you regarding . Could you please give me a status update? Thanks for your help.

Bob "

Emails can be easily misinterpreted, but once they read your name as the sender they will filter the text through their knowledge of you.

So, the best thing to do to appear kind and polite in emails is to first demonstrate kindness and politeness in your in-person interactions.

If you have a new colleague in your team, has a 1-2-1 in person or with video with her/him before you start exchanging multiple emails per day.

  • "I hope you are doing well." is a bit too much. I think using greetings (with the person's name) and asking an actual question instead of demanding an update is all that is needed here. – MlleMei May 6 at 9:39
  • different strokes for different folks, I guess – Monoandale May 6 at 11:48
  • @MlleMei what language differentiate asking form demanding within a question? I am trying to understand how the tone is demanding. Thanks – Barry MSIH May 6 at 17:19
  • @BarryMSIH In the examples you provided, your tone indicates you're demanding something, instead of asking. Helena's answer is a good one on that front. – MlleMei May 7 at 11:50

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