"Advise", "revert" and the importance of empathy

We regularly get people coming to this blog who have searched for the phrase “advise and revert”. Invariably, these visitors are from Asian countries where English is not the first language. I suspect an Anglophone colleague has utterly befuddled such readers by sending them an email promising to “advise and revert” or asking them to “please advise and revert”.

If you are one of the confused, all you need to know is this: the phrase “advise and revert” simply means “reply with the information”.

If, however, you are the Anglophone who is confusing your international colleagues, please stop doing so now.

The phrase “advise and revert” is not standard English. It is not an acceptably formal use of the language. It is not speedy, slick shorthand that makes you sound impressively busy and on top of things.

It is pretentious corporate jargon. And it is gobbledygook to most non-native speakers, who would have learned that “to advise” means “to give advice” and “to revert” means “to return to a previous condition or state”.

Put yourself in your reader’s shoes

Imagine if someone had sent you an email that appears to be saying “please give advice and return to your previous condition”. Wouldn’t it stress you out, not knowing what was being asked of you?

Stressing out your colleagues and clients does not make for good business relationships. Perhaps that's why one international company we’ve worked with even states in its corporate style guide that all written documents should use inclusive language.

“Advise and revert” is the opposite of inclusive. It is language that excludes non-native speakers.

So if you’re working in a global organisation or with international clients, show empathy with all your readers and keep your language simple.

See also “Advise” and “revert”: two words to avoid in your emails