The Game of Email Responses

Image source: http://themetapicture.com/responding-e-mails/

Today’s working professionals are swimming in emails, it almost eats up their very-important-time of working week.

Think of the last time you sent an important email and didn’t get a response. Your first reaction was probably, He’s just busy. After a few days, you wonder, Did he get my e-mail? A few days later, What did I do wrong? Then, invariably, What a jerk!

Off-late, it’s become more and more “acceptable” to not respond promptly to e-mails, or worse, to not respond at all. Listen, I get it. We’re all busy. But that’s no excuse for bad behavior. Response time speaks volumes about who we are, for better or for worse.

There are valid reasons why don’t respond. Terminally busy people usually have great intentions but fail in execution. It’s a “too many emails, too little time” situation. They might see a message, plan to reply later, and forget.

Put simply, if you don’t respond, people won’t trust you. When they don’t trust you, they won’t respect you. And when they don’t respect you, they’ll never see you as credible. Shockingly, many will take it personally if you blatantly ignore their emails. They wonder, Do I not matter enough to warrant a reply?

Few things that I propose:

  1. To get ahead in life, you can’t ignore emails.
  2. Get organised and find a system/method that works for you, stick to it.
  3. Pick a response window and reply to the emails in that window. You don’t have to reply to an email right away (if it’s not an urgent email).
  4. Acknowledge receipt. e.g. If you’re busy then acknowledge ‘Got your email. I’m tied up this week but will reply as soon as I can’. People will understand and it will let them live in peace.
  5. Emails which is requesting your help and you’re not able to, then not responding to the email is passive aggressive, cowardly and rude. Even if a stranger sends you an email, give them the professional courtesy of a reply, “Thank you so much for your request. I’m sorry that I can’t help you.” It will take you less than 15 seconds and they’ll be out of limbo.
  6. If you fail to respond to an email, then just apologise and move on, no excuses at all.

Don’t be like Jon Snow who knows nothing. Be more responsive, what do you say?