When a sentence starts with “Can you …” I become suspicious: Rarely what you read is what is said. Most of the time can you translates into “I know you can, so do” or simply “DO IT!”.
I don’t like the idea of hiding an order in a question. If I ask for something, the sentence should finish with a full stop, if it’s a question it will finish with an interrogation mark.
I’ve chosen to avoid sentences starting with can you and to use a please do form instead. For example “can you review the document” becomes “please review the document”.
I don’t know if it has an impact on the reader, but as the writer I feel better and more in line with my values.
There is an easy check to know if you are writing an order or a sincere question: how would you react to no as an answer?
Next time you are starting a sentence with can you, be sure it’s not a hidden please do.[reminder]Did you send or receive emails with can you or please do? Which form do you prefer?[/reminder]