Many times in your career, you will find yourself awaiting a status update for a project. It can be a frustrating situation to find yourself in, and can be difficult to find a polite way to ask for an update without coming off as rude and demanding, to say the least.
That's why we're here. Let's take a look at how you can find polite wording to ask your client for an update on an initiative, project, or really anything. Read on for more.
"Can you please update me?"
This is perhaps the best way to go about getting those pesky status updates and is a standard practice in business communication. It's simple, straightforward, and doesn't involve sending an essay-length email. "Can you please update me?" gets the job done and is the most direct of all the expressions we'll discuss on this list.
It also works best if you're requesting a status update from a fellow team member since you will already be communicating with them and won't need to sound polite.
You can, however, accomplish politeness by adding a simple "please" while keeping the request as simple as possible. Here is a sample email asking for updated information that incorporates "can you please update me":
Dear Ms. Doe,
I hope all is good on your side. I'd like to ask for an update on our current project, please. We're excited to move forward!
I hope this letter finds you well. All the best.
As you can see, an email in this format is short, simple, and to the point. It takes a few seconds to read – all of the most effective emails do – while also making it easy for your client to reply, preferably with a status update! Simplicity should be the foundation of your business communication.
"Would it be possible to receive an update?"
If you're looking for a phrase to use in your requests for status updates that's a little more passive, using "would it be possible to receive an update" is a great way to go. While it's a slightly longer sentence, it is nonetheless very useful to ask for an update while still being concise.
When you use this phrase specifically, it becomes less of a clear call to action and more of an indirect, passive way of asking for something. This generally yields a much higher possibility of your client responding to you sooner since they won't feel like you are being aggressive or demanding.
Here's how you can incorporate "would it be possible to receive an update" into your next status report request:
Dear Mr. Jones,
Hello! I hope all is well with you. I'm writing this email because I've been thinking about our project and wanted to follow up on it. Would it be possible to receive an update on the project's current status? We're looking forward to making some good progress.
I hope this message finds you well. Best regards,
Such an email works great if you want to make it clear that you're trying to follow up on the status of your project without making the other party feel like you're making a demand. A key aspect of this phrase is its passive tone, and it's best paired with a more lighthearted, friendly message.
It would be most effective on a client you have worked with for a while or if you're on good terms with said client. If it is a highly professional relationship, consider using one of the more formal examples mentioned in this article.
"Would you kindly give me an update?"
This phrase is a fairly polite one to include in your follow-up emails. When you say "would you kindly give me an update" to your client, you'll come across as equal parts polite and businesslike, which can be the best recipe for a successful call to action. It also works for a range of business relationships, whether you're on a first-name basis with your client or you have a strictly business relationship.
This phrase is the highly formal equivalent of adding "please" to your update requests. It means the exact same thing but incorporates excellent politeness in a very professional way. Here's an example of a follow-up email using "would you kindly give me an update":
I hope this message finds you well. We're excited to hear about your progress with our project. Would you kindly give me an update from your side? We eagerly await the next step.
Thanks for your cooperation. Wishing you all the best.
"Can you please give me a quick update?"
Here's a great phrase for 'lowering the stakes' of a follow-up email. Specifically, asking your client for a "quick status update" instead of a regular update lets them know that they don't have to worry too much about the update itself but rather the time frame in which they give you the update.
You're implying that you'll be satisfied with one or two lines outlining the necessary details of their end of the project. There's no one correct way to use this phrase, but here's an example that you might consider:
I hope you're doing well. We've been keeping busy working on our project and look forward to moving to the next steps! Can you please give me a quick update from your side? We'd just like to see how things are going.
I appreciate your continued help and wish you all the best. Chat soon.
"Just checking in"
Another super simple, effective phrase that you can use to open your request for a status update is "just checking in." When you check in with someone, you're letting them know that you'd like to know all the necessary details about your projects, but in a polite, casual way that won't overwhelm your clients.
There are also several ways you can follow up this phrase when you use it in an email, but simply saying "just checking in" will lower your client's guard and let them know that you aren't trying to add any further stress. Here's how to incorporate this phrase into your follow-up emails:
Dear Mr. Fraiser,
I hope you're doing well. I'm just checking in to request a status update about our project. We're making some good progress here and are looking forward to moving on to the next step.
Thanks for your time, and I hope this email finds you well.
"I wanted to see how things were going"
This is an excellent phrase to use if you're trying to keep things as professional as possible while still coming across as casual. It also works well if you've sent a previous email asking for updates since it adds a sense of familiarity to the overall tone of the letter.
When you use this phrase, your recipient will understand that all you are really asking for is an update on the project – nothing more, nothing less. It also gives them the freedom to write a response that isn't too detailed while still giving you all the information you need.
Moreover, since this is a passive phrase, they will have their guard down which increases your chances of receiving an informative, actionable response. Here's how to include it in your email to politely ask for an update:
I wanted to see how things were going with our writing project. Our company is making good progress, and my schedule has finally become less hectic. So, if there's anything I can assist you with this week, just write me a response, and I'll be glad to help.
We're excited to start the next phase of this project! Hope to hear from you soon.
"Is everything going alright with the project?"
This is a good way to ask for an update if you have already sent a few follow-up emails and haven't received a response or a response that you are satisfied with. Using "is everything going alright with the project" lets the other person know that you'd like the latest update as soon as possible while still keeping things polite.
It's a simple question that is easy enough to respond to. However, despite its simplicity, people will write a reply with the general status of whatever it is you are working on. Let's have a look at an example email using this phrase:
I trust you are doing well. It's been quite some time since I last heard from you. I wanted to politely ask if everything is going alright with our collaboration. I sometimes worry about these lapses in communication!
I look forward to your response, as well as hearing about the status of our project.
Wishing you all the best.
"Can I help in any way?"
Offering help to your client when you request an update is the best way to get them to write a detailed response providing you with all the information you are looking for. It lets them know that you are eager to see how the work is coming along while also offering to take some of the pressure off of their shoulders.
However, you should only use this phrase if you are actually willing to provide your client with the help they might need. It's no use offering help only to back out at the last minute – you know what they say about actions and words!
Here's how we would use the phrase "can I help in any way" in a status request email:
I received your previous email – I'm glad to hear that you're doing well!
I wanted to inquire about the collaboration that we've been working on. I'd love to hear some feedback from your side on how things are going. Do let me know if I can help in any way – I finally have some more time on my hands.
I hope this letter finds you well. Cheers.
How to avoid coming off as rude in your emails
The last thing you want is for your client to think that you're being rude when you're writing a request for an update. Luckily, there are a few simple tips you can keep in mind to make sure that this never happens - here they are.
Give your recipient a reason to respond
If you've ever gotten an email with a one-word subject and one-line body, chances are you didn't bother even thinking of a reply. You just sent it to your trash folder and continued with your day. If your emails look like that, then you're going to receive the same treatment for your emails.
When people are busy, they won't want to spend ten minutes writing an email. They'll barely want to spend two minutes writing a letter.
So, a good way to follow up is to write an email with some actual content or new information. Tell your reader what you have been up to with regards to the project in a few short sentences, and let them know that you are looking forward to making more progress with them. You can then ask them for an update using one of the above-mentioned methods.
The subject line matters!
One of the most important things you can do when writing a professional email is to put effort into the subject line. Use a proper subject, and be sure that it is clear and direct. Use things like "Following Up," "Quick Status Update," or "Getting In Touch About [Thing]."
Avoid using a blank subject line at all costs. If your email's subject is blank, it's going to look suspicious and out of place and will likely be sent straight to the Spam folder. Not good!
Check, double-check, then check again when it comes to the spelling in your emails. You don't want to have any typos or grammar mistakes anywhere in your email - if there's a mistake, your entire email loses credibility. By extension, you lose credibility as well.
This also applies to spelling names. You need to make sure that you are spelling your clients' names correctly, or else they will lose all respect for you. After all, who's going to want to work with someone who can't even be bothered to spell their name correctly?
It is also important never to assume the sex of your recipient. If you are unsure about how to refer to your client, simply use their first and last name in the opening of the letter. It adds an air of professionalism to the mail while also making sure that you don't accidentally refer to them incorrectly.
Consider any cultural differences
In some cases, it may be necessary to pay attention to any cultural differences between you and your client. People from different cultures write and speak differently and may be caught off guard by your particular way of speaking.
The word "please" can be a tricky one. In many Asian cultures, it is a very polite word when you ask someone to do something for you. However, in the West, it can often sound like a command.
Instead of writing "please do something," try saying "I'd appreciate it if you could" or "Could you" in your letters. Regardless of how much the recipient is actually able to help you, using phrases like this is a new way to show that you appreciate their assistance.
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Have a good send-off
The end of your email doesn't always have to end with "sincerely" or "best wishes." These are so overused that they can come off as insincere, so try to come up with a polite and formal send-off.
Things like "wishing you the best," "all the best," and "take care" are great ways to show that you're putting a little extra effort into the email you're sending your client. That way, they know that they are valued and are not just another address that you're sending your emails to.
Say something nice
Many people believe that omitting the opening nicety in an email is perfectly acceptable. While it might be an accepted practice, sometimes adding something nice to your letters can go a long way. These openers certainly don't have to be anything elaborate - just a quick, friendly line to humanize your emails.
Things like "I hope you've had a good week," "I hope you're doing well," or "Thanks for getting back to me" can really help break the ice and get the conversation flowing between you and your client.
Getting an update or response from your client doesn’t have to be a challenging process. With the above update options, you are more likely to hear from your client sooner, without irritating or bothering them.
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