Wednesday, October 26, 2005

People To Hate: Please Advisees

This so begins my series of People I Hate. Or a nicer way to put it, Pet Peeves. But I prefer to hate. This installment is brought to you by The Flip Chart, "All your ideas magnified."

Me: "For the record, I am not taking this discussion "offline" and I am not going to "put it to bed" until we "face the issues at hand" and come up with a "gameplan" to dismantle "said" phrase."
Population-at-large, which at the moment is really just You: "What phrase, pray tell, would that be?"
Me: shudders...."Please advise."

No offense, but if you use it: Please stop. In fact, I ADVISE you to stop. Isn't that what you want to hear?

By itself, it appears innocent enough. "Please advise." I mean someone is imploring your Great Wisdom. Seemingly, they can not get through this task - this problem - this request - without an almighty edict from you, All Knowing Adviser. You might be saying, "Gallop that high horse, Tonto! Run with it!" But there are some people abusing this phrase - and that is what I want to stop right now. The tone is usually bossy and condescending when this irksome little phrase is preceded by an order like, "Do this! Please advise!"

Let's look at an example of when this phrase is misused and break it down on all levels of wrong.

Outlook Inbox: Remove Joe from the Very Important Tax Daily. Please advise.

First, what does "please advise" have to do with an order? Don't you see that it is just extraneous verbiage disguised as fancy email-speak? What are The Please Advisees thinking? That if you don't tag on the "please advise" at the end of your email, it nulls your request? That I might ignore your plea altogether and you will be stuck in corporate limbo - somewhere between passive and aggressive? In person, you wouldn't tag on the "please advise" and tap, tap, tap your foot. Or would you?

Or do you just think that you sound more authoritative and professional and therefore the exclamation of "please advise" at the end will surely "get things done?"

"I will not be ignored!" the Please Advisee triumphantly shouts from his/her mount - the plastic ergonomically-impaired chair that is held together by rubberbands. I'm pretty sure they have mumbled, "Or be damned!" at the end -0nce or twice.

It is this kind of bossy tone that I absolutely can not stand. As such, I hate emails that begin with a verb. "Send..." "Get me..." "Do...." I have never responded well to bossy types. When I was very little and the television spoke to me and told me to "don't go anywhere, we will be back after this short commercial break!" I spoke back and said, "I'll go away if I want to."

Or am I reading it all wrong and the "please advise" is intended to tone down the bossiness - you know, the professional symbol for the always-friendly smiley face ":)". If that is the case, then I prefer the smiley face with the nose ":-)".

In my experience, it is always the administrative assistants who use the "please advise" phrase - and use it like it is going out of style. I think that they must have all taken some kind of office lingo seminar that teaches them the language that gets-things-done. You don't have to be all business talky with me. See? I use phrases like "business talky." We are all peers here. Like sometimes my black bra strap shows and you tell me. I hate that too but you are not below me to point out my office fashion misstep. Because I can't advise you then, I'll be too busy fixing my black bra straps.

Let me re-write the email.

Hi! I love your black bra - you are starting a new fashion statement there, girl! In the 60's they burned bras, in the 00's they show their bras - black ones at that! So Joe does not want to get the Very Important News Daily anymore. He says that his carpal tunnell has healed and he can click the mouse away and read it online now. Got to love therapy - it clears the mind, if you know what I mean. Heh heh. But if his hand buckles up again, you will be the first to know! Oh, and I went to this office seminar last week and they told us that we should end our email always with "please advise." That seems silly, don't you think? But here goes...Where can I get a black bra just like yours? Please advise. :-)

Edited to add: OK...this whole rant is really just directed to one or two people I come in contact with who seriously use the phrase as in the example above. Of course, there is an appropriate context for the phrase and I salute the people who use it accordingly!! See, I love too! And obviously by throwing in black bras in this rant, I am completely in my own head. Crazy like that.


Morgan said...

I think I might be guilty of this, but not in the way you reference it. For example a query to my boss:
Boss lady, they have 14 different choices which are listed below. Please advise as to which one you prefer.

Is that still really bad? Because perhaps I can change. Please advise?

amyd said...

I admit it! I am a please advisee-the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem. But like morgan I usually use the phrase when I want to know what the hell my boss wants. Her emails tend to be very cryptic, which is frustrating too.

other catch phrases I can't stand: "let's be proactive" and "thinking outside of the box"

Original Me said...

Those are all very good uses of the phrase "please advise" so I should have included appropriate uses for the phrase and you guys are stellar examples of this! Good job! This whole rant is pointed at one person in particular at work who over-uses the phrase ad nauseum!

Morgan said...

I was in my marketing class and was told that anyone using the phrase "Think Outside The Box" is already f'd b/c if they are using that phrase there is no way they will come up with anything original. I have to admit that I totally agreed with them.

And...thanks for the positive reinforcement. I needed it.