Please do the needful…

By Sharmila Gautama

A few months ago, I was training a team of techies in D.E. Shaw. The team had to email and chat with their American counterparts giving them status updates on their projects, and there were many situations when their messages did not get across correctly because of ‘Indianisms’ in their emails.

Incidentally, one participant in the D.E. Shaw team had written this to an American colleague and he received a response that said, ‘Well, what am I supposed to do?’ And, as proof of this, he brought a print out of the email to the training class.

When writing to a global audience, this phrase is best avoided. Finish the email with anaction point for the reader – tell him what he needs to do in plain and simple language.


I always end my emails with clear action statements like these:

  • Please give me more information on this.
  • Can you support me in resolving these issues?
  • I am waiting for your suggestions/status update…
  • I am waiting to hear from you.

Sometimes, action points are meant for you.

  • I will email this document to you by next Wednesday.
  • After the meeting next week, I will be able to give you more information on this.


So, the next time you type, ‘please do the needful’, think again.