They assume the other person is purposely avoiding them. What?!
Sure, it’s possible that they are snubbing you. But it’s far more likely that their lack of response has nothing to do with you in any way. Don’t take it personally!
Before YOU get upset that someone hasn’t replied to YOUR email, consider the many reasons why this might be the case (paying special attention to #14).
When I first wrote this list in 2015 there were only 14 reasons. But technology marches on, creating more reasons as it goes.
Also, I had a recent experience where I was the one who didn’t reply — Ack! — for reasons 15 & 16.
So, time for an update!
16 reasons why they haven’t replied to your email
- They haven’t checked their email since you sent yours. Maybe they’re extra busy; or on vacation; or not in the habit of checking email as regularly as you are; or experiencing technical difficulties. Actually, that’s four reasons right there! If it’s that important, give them a heads-up call.
- They saw it, but did not open it yet, thinking they’d come back to it, and then forgot.
- They opened it, but did not actually read it due to interruption/distraction, and then forgot.
- They read it, and fully intended to reply, but got interrupted/distracted and did not have a reliable system for reminding themselves to do it later.
- They did not recognize that a reply was called for because they didn’t read it to the very end. Was your email too long? Did it contain too many topics? Try starting with the request rather than the explanation behind it.
- They did not recognize that a reply was called for because the request was not clear.
- They didn’t recognize it as being important to read due to the vague subject line or unknown sender. I’ve overlooked emails myself from people who were important to me because they were sent by assistants whose names I did not recognize.
- They have so many emails in their inbox that it simply got lost in the clutter. Good reason to declutter your own inbox!
- They gave you (or you found) a different address than the one they normally use, and they aren’t checking the inbox where your email actually went. This happened to me, with a customer complaining they hadn’t received their digital download order. What can I say? I used the address they gave me!
- Your email went to their Junk or Spam folder, which can happen accidentally despite their settings. They might not even know they have settings or how to change them. They might not even know they have Junk and/or Spam folders. You never know what people don’t know.
- They set up a Rule to forward certain emails to a designated folder and didn’t realize yours would go there and then forgot to check that folder. (Yes, I’m speaking from experience.)
- The email got delayed or lost in cyberspace. Yes, really. It’s not common, but it happens.
- They read, it and they do intend to reply, and have not forgotten, but are not quite sure what they want to say. Maybe it’s a sticky situation? Maybe they need more info? Maybe a phone call is in order?
- Or…uh oh…wait a minute…what if…maybe they really DID reply?! Before asking them about it make sure you’ve searched your own emails, Junk/Spam folders, etc. Each folder can be sorted by sender, date, and subject. You can also search ALL email items to see where it might have gone. Maybe you’re the one who set up a Rule to forward certain emails to a designated folder and you forgot to look for it there. Also, check your Sent messages folder to make sure you really sent it, and to the correct address. I’ve been known to think I sent a message, when in fact it’s sitting in my Drafts folder. Oops!
- There are so many ways to leave messages these days — voice mail, email, texting, Facebook Messenger (and similar internal social media messaging systems), etc. It’s easier than ever before for something to fall through the cracks. And sometimes a conversation that was initiated on one platform is best moved to another.
- Even if they have an effective way to manage their email, yours may have encountered a confusing juxtaposition of settings and/or platforms. For example, they might have their email (on phone and/or computer) set to not automatically download images so as to save storage space. And maybe the images were key to the issue at hand but went unnoticed. (I always write “See image below” as a heads up.)
What to do about it
- Don’t take it personally.
- Give them a break. You never know what’s going on with someone personally, professionally, or technology-wise.
- Resend the email….that is, if it’s not an emergency warranting a phone call. If I haven’t heard from YOU yet (and I have searched my own emails for your reply, and verified that I actually sent it) I usually wait a few days. Remember, it’s email, nothing urgent. Then I re-send the email with a note: “Resending in case this message — or your reply — got lost in cyberspace.” Usually, I get a quick reply saying you have just been busy, and forgot, and are happy to reply. This way I have given you an out. It’s certainly not something I want you to feel bad about. If it were that important I would have called — or, at the least, I would have written URGENT in the subject line. Most importantly, meanwhile, I am not assuming that you are purposely avoiding me!
Do you take email (or lack thereof) personally?
What other reasons can you think of?
Please share in the comments below!
Copyright 2015-2020 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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