Dear email neglector,
Last month I sent you an email. It took time and effort to write this message, but I didn’t get a response.
My first reaction was, You are just busy. After a few days, I wondered , Did you get my e-mail? A few days later, What did I do wrong? Then, invariably, What a jerk!
It seems like it’s becoming more and more “acceptable” to not respond to e-mails. In the last month I sent out 20 personal emails and only 2 people replied. And trust me, I get it. You are busy. But that’s no excuse for bad behavior. You seem to forget that there is a human being on the other end who has feelings.
Maybe you think your neglect of my email isn’t hurting you...I hate to burst your bubble. This behavior could be more damaging than you realize. So keep reading:
In one study, people who didn’t respond to an email, were evaluated more harshly, assigned more negative intentions and viewed as less credible than their responsive counterparts. 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.
See, I understand there are reasons why you don’t respond. Maybe you had great intentions but failed in execution. Or maybe you were worried about saying no. Or you simply felt unmotivated. But there is no explanation for it: email silence harms you and your business.
Let me tell you a story about a CEO of WA based organisation. Perhaps you will understand my point a bit better. Three years ago, I had just started my own business here in Perth. I decided to send this man a message that took me at least half an hour to put together. You see, English is not my first language and I wanted to make a good first impression. He replied to me on the same day: “Got your email, Janine. I’m tied up this week but will reply as soon as I can”. He bought himself goodwill and time by acknowledging my message.
A week later I received his definite answer: “Janine, thank you so much for your request. I appreciate your interest in working with our organisation. I am sorry that I can’t help you at the moment. We are happy with our current training providers. I wish you all the best with your new business!”
And guess what? I wasn’t even disappointed.
Because I can handle rejection. I just can’t handle not knowing.
Last year I met him at a seminar and I decided to tell him how I remembered and appreciated the way he handled my email many years ago. He told me that it's the way he grew his business. He found that when you're reliable, even if you’re not always right, people will want to work with you and for you. No matter if you’re flipping burgers or you’re the CEO.
I have been recommending him and his business to my network ever since.
So dear email neglector, will you join me in the revolution of responsiveness? Let’s make this world a better, more civil place, one email at a time. What do you say?
Janine de Muinck - Managing Director at InterACT WA.