You know how group projects in school were stressful? Especially, when you were paired up with the person who couldn’t get their work done on time? Not answering someone’s email is equivalent to that feeling. If you’re holding them back from moving forward in their job until you answer, that’s an even worse feeling. Whether you’re answering important business emails, emails to family members, or emails between classmates, get in the habit now of answering those emails. Even the ones where someone responds to you and you don’t think it needs a follow-up email, answer anyway with a simple “thank you” or “thanks for getting back to me.”
I understand we all have busy days and sometimes forget to do a couple things. However, you should never choose to not respond to an email. If there’s one thing I’ve noticed over the last couple years, it’s that finding people who respond to emails within the same week is extremely rare. This doesn’t only cause a problem for the person waiting for a response, it doesn’t represent the sender well either. Remember the old saying “treat others how you would like to be treated”? Well, that goes for responding to emails too.
It’s frustrating not to receive a response that you’re waiting for, but it’s even worse when you’re waiting longer than a week. So in other words, respond to emails as quickly as you would like others to respond to yours. Don’t be that person that says you’ll get to it when you get a chance. No one sends out an email with the thought of “they’ll respond within the next month,” or “I left enough time for them to get other things done before they have to respond to me.” If they spend the time typing up the email to send to you, be kind enough to send a response in a timely manner. Not only will it make you look more responsible, it’s a lot better than having someone guess whether or not you received it, if they sent it to the correct email, or if you’re still interested in speaking with them.
Plus, if they have to send you a follow-up email, asking whether or not you got the first one they sent you, I can tell you now they aren’t happy with you, even if they respond nicely. All of you will understand the importance of an email at some point, especially when you are on the receiving end, waiting for that response. Chances are the first time you’re waiting on a response, you’ll go through the 6 stages of waiting.
So here are the 6 stages of waiting for an email response, explained by the cast of Friends:
Day 1: The day you send the email. Your Joey Tribbiani confidence kicks in, they’ll have to answer within the next day, right?
Day 2: Giving it until the end of the week. You’re getting a little impatient but any good doctor would tell you, “give it until the end of the week.” However, maybe we should leave Dr. Ross Geller’s expertise to his dinosaurs, rather than answering emails.
Middle of week 2: Making sure you used the right email address You told them you need an answer ASAP, right? Well, that doesn’t stop your Monica Geller side from kicking in, leaving you to start cross checking all of your work.
Beginning of week 3: Sending a follow-up email. Unfortunately, this person is holding you back from your tasks, which is going to require a follow-up email. Patience only goes so far, sometimes even your carefree Phoebe Buffay side can crack too.
Middle of week 4: Finally receiving your response, that only contains two sentences, almost a month later. Rachel Green never took anyone’s crap and seeing a response like this goes right through you. However, Rachel always kept her cool when it came to situations at work. Don’t be accusing anyone of wanting to buy your baby over this response.
Same Day: Realizing you have another question to ask them based on their response. There’s a good chance you hate this person based on their response already. What’s even worse is knowing you need to continue your work relationship with them, until all of your questions are answered. That’s where you need to pull a Chandler Bing and laugh it off with some humor and sarcasm.
I get it, we all forget things sometimes. We’ve all had those busy days where we’re trying to remember too much at once. However, we all have access to our phones, computers, tablets, smart watches, etc. even if you’re too busy to send a full response, send a quick reply letting them know you received it and you’ll get back to them shortly. Responding to emails goes a long way. You’ll understand just how important it is when experiencing the waiting phase. Now go respond to those emails you promised to answer a week ago, I promise you’ll be glad you did.
Featured Image via screengrab from Friends.