Prompt people to act

Do you desperately need your co-workers—or even your boss—to move a little faster and deliver on a request? Use these subtle, polite phrases to encourage them to step it up:

“A quick check to see if we’re on track to deliver XYZ by …” Use this one if a deadline is quickly approaching and you haven’t yet received any progress updates. It’s best to send this out at least a few days prior to the deadline.

“As we agreed on December 12 …” This one is ideal for when a co-worker seems to forget action items you set together. You can also avoid this issue by providing a list of steps or decisions to which you agreed following any meeting.

“Resending this message in case it got buried in your inbox. Please respond by …” Use this one to encourage co-workers to respond. You should only send this if you provided a “respond by” date in the initial message and the co-worker failed to do so by then. If you don’t get a response, call the person or stop by their desk, rather than email again.

— Adapted from “Passive-Aggressive Phrases to Get Your Coworkers to Deliver,” Heather Yamada-Hosley, Lifehacker,