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13 May 2009 @ 08:32 am
To follow up to yesterday's post  
(I actually wrote the e-mail first, then posted the poll because I had struggled so much with the phrasing.)

ETA: Because context matters, the background here is that faculty member X dropped in to ask about a problem he was having with software product Y. The person he wanted to talk to was in a meeting, so I took a message. end of added context

I went with, "Could you call X about Y, please?"

Here's how I reasoned it.

"Could" rather than "Would" -- "Would you call" sounded, in my head, like an instruction to do so, whereas "Could" had, for me, the connotation of a polite request that understood the co-worker might not have the time to make another phone call.

"call..., please" rather than "please call" -- the former, again, sounded in my head like a polite request, where the latter sounded to me as if I were exasperated because I'd made the same request several times before.

Huh. I just realized that if the person who needed to be called had been of a higher perceived status than my coworker or had conveyed a sense of urgency, I probably would have written, "Please call X about Y".

For the future, I may avoid the whole thing by moving to something like, "X called with a question about Y. His/her number is Z. Thanks!" and simply assuming the contact would be made.
Ayoub™ayoub on May 13th, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
I tend to go with:


I wonder if you would do me a favour and call X about Y.


Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 13th, 2009 01:33 pm (UTC)
I might have said that if it were a favor to me. In this case, it was a matter of a faculty member dropping in without an appointment to ask a question, only the person he wanted to talk to was already in a meeting with another faculty member, hence the message.

And I think I'm going to add that; context matters.
Ayoub™ayoub on May 13th, 2009 01:41 pm (UTC)
I just like to make the request personal...

But yes, context matters :)
seawaspseawasp on May 13th, 2009 01:50 pm (UTC)
In the context of your situation (faculty member drops by to ask question of someone else, you're just passing the message) it's even LESS of an issue how you word it, because you're playing Human Answering Machine. Me, in that case I either drop a note on their desk saying "Joe has a question, call at XXX-XXXX" or say "Joe stopped by to ask you something, call him back."
Curious Stuff: typewriter keysonelargecat on May 13th, 2009 03:40 pm (UTC)
yes, I agree. you're just passing on a message.

I think you're overthinking it, Janet. :) No one is going to be offended by any of the options you were considering for wording. Although, for the record, I like the last thing the best...just a factual note that says, "X called with a question about Y. His number is blah blah blah." :)
Janet Miles, CAP-OMjanetmiles on May 13th, 2009 03:41 pm (UTC)
Of course I'm overthinking it! That's what Janets do best! *smile*
Curious Stuff: pink swirlonelargecat on May 13th, 2009 03:46 pm (UTC)
The watcher over there: two centsdafydd on May 13th, 2009 03:24 pm (UTC)
From the first post, I thought of "Would you mind calling X about Y?" which doesn't sound like an instruction, to me.

However, now that I have context, I would go with context, as you did in your last paragraph.
browngirl on May 13th, 2009 05:28 pm (UTC)
I like your final version. *snags*
Adrian Turtleadrian_turtle on May 13th, 2009 06:16 pm (UTC)
If tone of voice is reasonably polite, neither of the phrasings you mentioned in your previous post are verbal attack patterns. As I recall the comments, nobody said either one was *necessarily* hostile, only that one or the other *could* be hostile, if rhythm and tone were emphatically hostile. ("Good morning, Janet," can be said in an emphatically hostile tone, as I'm sure you know.)
Steffirecat on May 13th, 2009 11:09 pm (UTC)
For the future, I may avoid the whole thing by moving to something like, "X called with a question about Y. His/her number is Z.

When I had "taking message" duties as part of my job I used those little pink pads of paper, which basically boiled down to the above. So that's probably what I would do in that case.