It’s time to ban the phrase “Let me know” from my vocabulary.

The phrase is seemingly harmless. In most communications, “let me know” has very good intentions. “Let me know” is generally used to take the edge off things.

“Do you know when the deadline is? Let me know!” sounds friendlier than just “Do you know when the deadline is?” It’s kind of like adding “lol” to a text that could be taken the wrong way.

The issue is that ‘Let me know’ also seems to confer some sort of lack of responsibility on the end of the receiver. It seems to imply that the person being asked to let you know can get to you when they feel like it, as opposed to when they actually do know and could let you know. I’ve noticed that I am MUCH likelier to get a response from someone if I ask a direct question (ie, “Are you going to John’s party?”) than when I add “Let me know” (ie, “Are you going to John’s party? Let me know!”). This is annoying. Especially when “Let me know” comes from such polite intentions.

Why don’t people respond when you add “let me know”?

I think it’s because the word ‘let’ is so passive. The definition of ‘let’ is to give permission or opportunity to; allow. In using the word ‘let,’ one puts the power in the hands of the other person, granting them the ability to approve or deny your request. When you ask directly, you put the responsibility on them to answer you.

So, like a bandaid, let me know is coming off my emails and texts.

Will my communications come off as rude now? I hope not. Actually, I am hoping that they’ll come off as more assertive. I also think there are more ways to be polite in digital communications without willingly putting your own self under the whims of the person you are asking for info from.

One is through emoticons. And I mean emoticons, not emojis (emoticon = a simple smiley face like this: 🙂 ). (In my opinion, emojis are way overhyped. Why is the taco emoji considered news? Why is ordering a pizza with a pizza emoji considered innovation? If you took a picture of a cactus, and caption it “cactus,” do you also need to put the cactus emoji? But that’s another story).

Emoticons serve a purpose in digital communications. Especially when you do not know the person face to face, or you have to convey information that could be taken in a much more serious tone than expected. I used to think smiley faces in work emails were kind of silly, but then I realized that every time someone uses them, I a) feel good about the person who emailed me b) feel motivated to respond to them. This is, of course, assuming that the emoticon was used appropriately, and not like “you’re fired! 🙂 ”

tl;dr –

“Hey, when are you free to meet about the content strategy? :-)”

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“Hey, when are you free to meet about the content strategy? Let me know!”

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