Playing the waiting game is one of the most frustrating parts of any communications process (phone, email, instant message), regardless of your end goal. However, the frustration increases when you have a deadline looming overhead. Yet, so many of us choose not to follow up and expect that whoever we reached out to will get back to us in due time. Unfortunately, that’s very rarely the case.
After all, your priorities often don’t align with someone else’s. That’s why you need to follow up. If you have the time available, I recommend giving it at minimum a week before you reach out. Naturally there are exceptions, such as a missed deadline or a prioritized task. But typically if you have the time, give the other person some leeway. After all, they don’t like looking at their inbox any more than you do.
Don’t believe me? Great. Here are 5 reasons that back my claim.
*If you really can’t reach them, pick up a phone!
1. YOUR EMAIL GOT LOST IN THEIR INBOX
This is often dependent on who you’re reaching out to. However, if you’re emailing someone who is fairly high up in the ladder, there is a very good chance that they simply missed your email. There are two common, and often effective, ways of remedying this situation — 1) follow-up with a phone call, or 2) follow-up with an email referencing your first email and states that you will call them in X number of days if you don’t hear back. Number two is often easier to do when you’re ahead of schedule.
2. THEY TYPED OUT A REPLY AND GOT DISTRACTED
This is something that has happened to everyone regardless of what communication tool they’re using. In your mind, you thought you clicked send but in reality, the email is hanging out in the “Drafts” folder. A bit unfortunate but it happens to the best of us. By following up, you’re keeping them accountable and on their toes. So really, it’s a good thing.
3. THEY’RE NOT THE DECISION MAKER
You’re under the impression that the person you’re talking to is actually the decision maker because they’re on point, informed, and punctual. Suddenly they come back and tell you that their boss is out of town for the week and won’t be able to get an answer to you until the following Monday. Where does that leave you? In a bit of a pickle really. However, I trust that you’ll figure out who to reach out to. At least now you know that a) you need to take an extra step to get that final decision, and b) the decision maker is out of town. Two things you didn’t know before you followed up.
4. THEY SIMPLY FORGOT
One of the less promising, yet more common reasons for not hearing back — they forgot. They saw that you emailed them and they *intended* to email you back, but they forgot. It’s human nature. I know that we’ve all done this. Heck, it’s why there are apps that allow you to schedule emails for delayed sending! That way you do it now and pretend you did it later.
5. LAST MINUTE EMERGENCY
In every work environment there are good moments and bad moments, and perhaps your email simply ended up being in the middle of one of those bad moments. What can you do? That’s life. But that doesn’t mean you don’t deserve an answer.