How to Write a Letter or Email to Your Boss

You need to be careful to sound polite and diplomatic when you write to people with high status, such as your boss or a client. Make sure you use the correct verb forms to avoid sounding too direct. Here are some tips and samples for writing politely.

1. Make a suggestion rather than giving advice.

“We should commission a report” becomes “Perhaps we could commission a report.”

2. Make a request rather than saying what you think.

“I haven’t used up all my annual salary” becomes “I’d be grateful if I could take five days off next month in order to use up my annual salary.”

“We need to discuss my salary” becomes “Would it be possible to discuss my salary?”

Here’s an example of what you can write if you want to ask your boss for a meeting to discuss a pay raise:

Dear XX

Would it be possible to set up a time to discuss my compensation? / to have a performance review?
(Or : I would appreciate the chance to meet to discuss a performance review. )

Please could you let me know when would be a convenient time for you?

(Your name)

3. Instead of giving orders, make a request.

“I would like you to sign this letter” becomes “Could you sign this letter?”

4. Involve the other person, rather than focusing on your own needs.

“We need to meet the suppliers” becomes “Do you think we should / could meet the suppliers?” Or “It might be useful to meet the suppliers.”

5. Remind your boss why it’s important

It’s often useful to put the purpose of your email or letter into context for your boss. Why is it important for him / her to read it? What business problem are you solving with your email or letter? Some phrases you can use at the beginning are:

“I’m following up on the project / the client meeting.”
“As you’re probably aware, we’ve been experiencing problems with … and I’d like to propose a solution…”
“I wanted to let you have / pass on to you …” (Continue with what you’re sharing with your boss, such as “the latest sales figures”, “the results of our marketing campaign”, etc.)

Extra Help

See also How to Write Politely for more phrases to use.