If You Want Your Suggestion Taken Seriously, Swap “If” for “When”

Greetings Wow-of-the-Week-ers,

Just before Thanksgiving I attended a meeting where my primary function was to listen to the meeting’s organizer and various experts in the room.

Because my “listening ears” —as Judge Judy calls them—were on, the following struck me hard:

After offering the meeting’s organizer some excellent advice, the expert who had been speaking concluded his remarks with,

“Let me know if you want help with that.”


Can we agree it would be stronger if he had followed his excellent suggestions with,

“Let me know when you want help with that.”?

If you’re doubtful, consider how this distinction lands for you when someone offers to help you out with an onerous task: 

Are you more likely to take them up on their generous offer if they say, “Let me know if you want help with that…” or, “Let me know when you want help with that.”?

Hear the difference?

So if (when) you want your request or suggestion taken seriously, say when.


For more on small distinctions that make big differences take a look at, “You’re Not Understanding Me,” vs. “I’m Not Expressing Myself Clearly.” or, “Let Me Know What I Can Do” vs. “How Can I Help?”