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I am a junior in sales office. I have not been here long. A senior colleague of mine will often ask me to read correspondence that he has drafted. On the whole it is an easy task requiring not much skill.

However he has sometimes structured his query asking if I may read his correspondence using this statement -

' you won't want to read that for me, will you ? '

I do read it but it irks me immensely that he poses his query this way but I cannot quite understand why this particular sentence structure irks me so much. I should tell him to go to hell but junior and all that...

I would appreciate some thoughts please.

Thank you.

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    It’s not meant to be insulting, it’a meant to be self-deprecating.... He’s asking nicely.... – Jim Jan 17 '19 at 17:34
  • Thanks Jim... I had not interpreted the query in exactly that way. Would I be wrong to think that someone using this particular sentence structure may in the past have been met with the response that 'no, I do not wish to read that for you ' ? and is therefore hesitant when subsequently asking other persons to read their correspondence ? – emm cee Jan 17 '19 at 17:50
  • Personally, I could take the question literally—and be perfectly happy to reply, "No, I won't." But I wouldn't consider it rude. At least not unless it was asked with a certain tone of voice. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Jan 17 '19 at 18:40
  • Welcome to EL&U! If it is said by-the-by, with him giving you the papers without waiting for an answer, it means "[Please] read this for me". If no such 'pushiness' is detected, it is meant kindly. – A Lambent Eye Jan 17 '19 at 19:20
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I'm curious why you're compelled to tell a senior colleague to "go to hell" when you don't even understand why you might be upset... But in any case, your colleague is phrasing the request in an extremely deferential and polite way. It sounds like he knows that proofreading or polishing his writing is not your primary job, and yet he frequently finds it valuable. The phrasing acknowledges that you probably don't want to provide this help, and indeed he invites you to decline. This is the language of extreme politeness. There is no reason to take offense.

If you do or do not decide to accept, equally polite responses would be, respectively, "Not at all. I'm happy to help." or "I'm afraid it won't be possible." A response such as "Correct; I don't want to read that." would be much blunter.

  • Hello & thanks for your comment. With your explanation, you give me a whole new helpful slant on the structure of the request. Thanks again. – emm cee Jan 18 '19 at 9:48
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Is it possible that the way he asks you irks you because it suggests that you don't want to read it but you have to (with you being the junior)?

  • Mike, I do happily read the correspondence and suggest edits where necessary ( and not very often in that regard...) but I am adamant that I have never given off signals, explicit or implicit that I consider the task an annoyance or dislike the task. – emm cee Jan 17 '19 at 18:00
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Unfortunately, text-only media is not always the greatest communicator of intention. For example, the phrase could be:

[disappointed] I know that you won't want to read that, even if it's me asking.

[commanding] Read that because I told you to.

[self-deprecating] I don't want to read this myself. I don't suppose you'll you read it for me instead?

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