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I know this is minor but noticed phrase it awkwardly when giving instructions or tasks. When receiving directions I prefer it to be phrased in the most direct way. For example: "reply to the email from XYZ, then confirm with the client we have done this".

I find it awkward if it were to start with "I want you to" or "you should be". Does anyone else get this? Is there a way I can subtly give this feedback to a new manager?

This isn't a big deal and I could just ignore it.

Edit in response to some of the comments: I'm not looking for words like please and thank you. If you're looking for an analysis, saying "I want you to do x y z" just sounds strange to me, I agreed to a certain job, not to do whatever the manager wants. The phrasing "you should be doing x y z" is concerning because it sounds like they are saying that I had already been doing it wrong. Again this isn't a big deal, I was just wondering.

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    Question: based on this question - do you have any formal diagnosis of any neurodivergent conditions? e.g. Aspergers, Autism etc. I ask because based on this and your previous question, it sounds like you might be on a spectrum of some description (don't worry, there's plenty of us there, most of us are nice enough) - in which case, understanding your condition might be the better way to address this issue. May 12, 2023 at 20:53
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    This isn't a big deal and I could just ignore it. - Yes. Do that.
    – joeqwerty
    May 12, 2023 at 23:23
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    @myusernameis123 - I'm not a huge fan of the term (for various reasons) but it is commonly understood, hence I use it. The reason I asked is it sounds very autistic-y - e.g. very black and white. Given that people with various A-Spectrum conditions see the world differently, it follows that the answer(s) will be different. May 12, 2023 at 23:25
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    There isn’t anything wrong with the way the supervisor is asking you to do something, while “please and thank you” is a pleasantry that often is shown it’s absolutely not required to request an employee to do something.
    – Donald
    May 13, 2023 at 1:53
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    It is unclear to me what exactly is bothering you about the way the manager phrases it. May 13, 2023 at 12:03

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As long as you clearly understand what your manager is asking you to do you should just just let it go if they phrased their request differently than normal. If there is any uncertainty due to the phrasing then yes you should give feedback. Just remember to present it from the angle of you wanting to fully understand your manager's request rather than telling them that their phrasing is awkward.

Also, keep in mind that people come from different educational backgrounds and cultures so not everyone will command the English language in the same way. The important thing is that the message is coming across as intended.

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  • He is from a non-English speaking country. I know this might sound prejudice (and I don't mean it that way) but I'm curious, if the manager's main function is to clearly communicate tasks how is it someone without a good grasp on the language or culture is hired for the job? May 12, 2023 at 21:46
  • @myusernameis123: (1) That isn't all a manager's "main" job entails, by a very long shot. (2) It sounds like they are doing just fine; you've admitted you understand them and just prefer that the request be made in a more formally polite phrasing... which actually does not reflect the reality that "please" is the wrong phrasing; they have authority to direct you to do something, and whether it pleases you or not matters relatively little.
    – keshlam
    May 13, 2023 at 2:32
  • "you've admitted you understand them" to be clear, in general I find it very difficult to understand them. May 13, 2023 at 11:32
  • @myusernameis123 Could you give some more detailed examples of what you find very difficult to understand? The question merely gives “I want you to…” and “You should be…” — and I can't see how those few words could be having such an impact on your understanding.
    – gidds
    May 13, 2023 at 16:18
  • @gidds that was just one example. Other times I ask him yes or no type questions and his response is ambiguous, like "should I do x?" his reply was "x will be done" (to me this phrasing is unclear if he's saying I should do it or someone else is already doing it). May 15, 2023 at 15:24
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I think that this isn't a big deal, and you should ignore it if you can. It probably would not offend or even bother your manager if you brought it up, but it is a pretty nitpicky thing to bring up to anyone especially a superior and since there is a small chance it might have negative consequences, I don't think it is worth trying. Plus the odds of actually getting your manager to change the way he gives you tasks is unlikely since language choices like that are pretty subconscious.

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The phrases he uses show that he keeps a distance between you two. This might be intentional or he's not sure it's OK to use a more direct speech (yet).

If you want to find out which one is it then you could try to ask him a general question about it like:

Bob, when I need to command someone to do something, would you say it's better to do this the x or the y way?

If he doesn't explain why then you may ask why method x is more preferable than y?

While discussing it, it's important to keep it general so he doesn't get the feeling it's about him, but, you seeking his advice for yourself.

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The problem is that different people expect the exact opposite of what you expect. The other problem is that people have different styles, and while questioning what work needs doing is something that you should do and is just professional, questioning your managers style can be seen as a personal attack.

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