Industry News

How challenging is it for you to be direct and unapologetic in an email when you ask for something you have every right to ask for?

SmartPulse -- our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Leadership -- tracks feedback from over 250,000 business leaders. We run the poll question each week in our newsletter.

How challenging is it for you to be direct and unapologetic in an email when you ask for something you have every right to ask for?

  • Not at all challenging. I'm direct and unapologetic all the time: 49%
  • A bit challenging. Sometimes I apologize or am indirect: 38.8%
  • Challenging. I'm not comfortable being direct and unapologetic: 10.8%
  • Very challenging. I'm constantly indirect and apologetic: 1.4%

Is it your fault? When we want something, it’s hard to be direct. A way to soften the request is to say “I’m sorry” before asking for something even if we have every right to ask for it. Why are you sorry? Is an apology really necessary. It weakens your message and reduces the likelihood you’ll get what’s due to you. If anything, the recipient of your message should apologize for not getting you what is owed to you in a timely enough manner that you have to follow up and ask for it. While you shouldn’t be a direct jerk about it, something along the lines of “I know you’re busy. I wanted to follow up and get this issue resolved so we can move on to other tasks.” Is polite, direct, unapologetic and empathetic to how busy they are, too. Stop taking the blame for things that aren’t your fault. You’ll feel better about yourself in the process of making that shift.

Mike Figliuolo is managing director of thoughtLEADERS. Before launching his own company, he worked at McKinsey & Co., Capital One and Scotts Miracle-Gro. He is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He's the author of three leadership books: "One Piece of Paper," "Lead Inside the Box" and "The Elegant Pitch."