‘Let me know how you want to proceed’: The real meaning, proper usage


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Mastering the art of e-mail etiquette in the digital age is crucial for business owners and freelancers alike.

However, understanding the nuance of certain phrases and expressions – especially if English isn’t your first language – can be difficult at times.

And there are certain phrases that tend to crop up more often than others in formal e-mail communications.

In this article, we are going to take a closer look at one of those popular phrases: “Let me know how you want to proceed“.

Topics included in this post include:

What is the meaning?

‘Let me know how you want to proceed’ meaning

When prompting a client or colleague to “let them know how you want to proceed” you are essentially asking that person: “What would you like me to do next”?

This phrase is most often used in a professional setting where the person asking the question is at a crossroads and needs someone else, the recipient, to provide some sort of direction on the next steps to take.

For example, let’s say that Bob, an employee of the XYZ Company, has been asked to design and purchase a set of ads. Bob is given a budget of $500. But after receiving a quote, Bob is told that the actual cost of the project will actually run closer to $1,000. Because Bob doesn’t have the authority to approve the additional spend without approval, he crafts an e-mail for his supervisor:

Hi Joe,

I’ve just received a quote for the ad buy. The cost will be more than double what we originally budgeted for the project.

It looks like we either need to increase the original budget, or reduce the size of the campaign.

Let me know how you want to proceed!

– Bob

Ideally, Bob’s supervisor would then respond to this e-mail indicating whether or not he is OK with the additional spend, or if he simply wants to reduce the size of the ad buy.

Is it grammatically correct?

Is it correct to say ‘let me know how you want to proceed’?

Yes, this phrase is grammatically correct.

However, I can see why this phrase can occasionally cause a bit of confusion.

Many people tend to mix up the words “proceed” and “precede”. After all, the two verbs not only sound similar to one another, but they also share the same root, ‘cede’, which comes from the Latin cedere – meaning, “to go”.

But the two words, in practice, have entirely different usages.

“Precede” refers to something that comes before, or goes in front of something else.

“Proceed” refers to the act of continuing or moving forward with an action.

Example sentences:

  • We’ve decided to proceed with the project as planned.
  • Introductions should precede tonight’s main event.

Is it polite?

It is polite to say ‘let me know how you want to proceed’?

Yes, it is perfectly polite to use the phrase “let me know how you want to proceed”. At worst, it could be perceived as slightly too formal when used in a casual setting.

For example, you likely wouldn’t use it on a friend or spouse in casual conversation about where to go for dinner.

Alternative phrases

‘Let me know how you want to proceed’ synonyms and alternative phrases

If you’re not comfortable using this phrase, you could consider using one of these options instead:

Formal:

  • Please advise
  • Awaiting your guidance
  • How do you wish to proceed?

Informal:

  • Let me know what you want to do
  • Let me know what you decide
  • What do you want to do?

If you found this blog post helpful, be sure to let me know in the comments below, and don’t forget to connect with me on social media.

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