Do you ever wonder why you never hear back from the person that you emailed so long ago? Chances are, your emails are being ignored. I know, you are a pretty thorough individual, and like to tell everyone the full story in your email. Maybe you are person that likes to get straight to the point. The truth is, your emails are being ignored, and to not get a response is disconcerting. Here are some tips to ensure that your emails get read and responded to.
Provide a due date
Your expectations and another person‘s expectations are not not be in sync if you do not provide a due date. Providing a due date helps both of you work towards a common goal in a timely manner. You can indicate the due date simply within the subject line of the email. If you are a task-oriented organization, you can assigned a task to a person using a tool like Outlook. Outlook will schedule the task, and send reminders, and emails to both parties about the impending due date. This will help both of you stay on top of things, and avoid awkward situations where you have to follow-up with them.
Keep it to the point, no tangents
It is amazing to see and read the long novels that people like to provide in emails. This is another example of how an email will be ignored. If you can’t get to the point within a screen shots length of your computer window, then you need to shorten it up. For example, if I open an email, if I have to scroll to finish reading what you are trying to say, then it is already way to long. There are situations where a long email is needed, but it can’t be every email that you send. People will start ignoring your emails because it takes too long to decipher what you are trying to say and their action. Try keep your emails short, to the point, with a valid action of the person reading the email.
Include the right people, avoid emails to all
When sending an email, make sure that the right people are included in the email that you are looking to send. If you are asking something directly to individuals, they should be listed in the “to” field. However, if you are just sending an “fyi” to people, then include them in the “cc” field. Don’t copy your whole organization on the email when your email only applies to several people. In doing this, the right people will know why they are included in the email and their designated role.
Give clear direction
One of the most frustrating feelings to have is not knowing what to do. It can be even more frustrating if you are included on an email with no clear direction for you to take action and respond. If you do not give clear, concise direction for the receiver, your email could be ignored. People aren’t mind readers, so provide them with what they need to make a decision and respond quickly. If you want them to answer a question, call them out and give a due date for responding. If you don’t give specific direction, your email will go to the bottom of the receiver’s digital pile.
“See below” – beware of long threads
Those two words can be the absolute worst in email land. Especially if there is a very long thread, that seems to go on for decades. If you are asking a person to “see below”, please make sure that they can go to the very next thread of the email and get the just of the situation quickly. If they cannot, then it would be in your best interest to summarize the situation in a quick paragraph, and give direction on what you need. You can still attach the thread for their reading pleasure. Don’t forget to give them a summary as it will help them answer you quickly instead of ignoring your email.
Solve the problem – offer up a solution
There is a little rule when it comes to working in business. If you are providing a complaint, then offer up a solution. If that solution isn’t the solution that is used, at least your manager or peer knows that you are interested in being apart of the solution and not the problem. As a peer or leader, is difficult to keep receiving emails about problem after problem. Peers and leaders are there to help you solve your problems, but having a possible solution helps to alleviate some pressure. Not all problematic emails go to the bottom of the pile, but without a solution to start with, the receiver will take more time to figure one out.
Stop repeating the ask – take notes of learnings
Are you someone who likes to ask the same person the same question over and over again? This will lead to your emails also being ignored. It is easy to ask the same person for answers, because you feel comfortable with them. Although people are generally wired to help, they might not be so keen to do so, if they feel you are taking advantage of their availability. The receiver of your email might ignore it to allow you time to figure out the answer on your own. Find a way to retain the learnings and knowledge that you have been given answers for. You can do this easily by taking notes in applications like OneNote or Evernote. If you are like me, a quick sticky note might be the way retain the things you learn, instead of asking again.
Many people do not know why their emails are getting ignored, or what they can do in order to prevent it. Hopefully these steps will help you get more feedback on the emails that you send. Try them, and let me know how It goes!