How to Assure People Read, Respond to Your Emails


Responsiveness, where do you rank?

I am the first to admit I'm not always the best at getting back to people in a timely fashion. It is not for lack of wanting to respond. I have the best of intentions and often have the note or email written in my head. I am not sure what happens but it often doesn't go out the day I intend it to. A day or so passes and then I am frustrated at myself for not replying to that person sooner.

I am guessing by the amount of times I have to resend an email or leave another message for someone that I am not the only one subject to this problem. I had a conversation with a friend today that reminded me while, to me, it may just be a shortcoming that I have to work on, to the person on the other side it can be unbelievably frustrating. It leaves that person in a state of flux not knowing how to proceed.

The Internet, email, Facebook, Twitter and the like have created an instant society where people expect an immediate response. So when the response doesn’t come, it leaves people wondering what to do. It puts them in this gray area of wanting to show interest and enthusiasm without being annoying.

It seems that the golden rule still is the best guide. Treat people how you would want to be treated. I Googled business etiquette and what came up time and again is to simply respond: Even if it's just a quick email to say you received their email and will get back to you. People want to know that your received the call, email or letter.

We are all overwhelmed with communication and keeping up with that alone can seem like a full-time job.

There's a ton of advice out there on just how to manage communication: only check emails once an hour, flag them by priority, create a to-do list before leaving every night, schedule all that needs to be done, if it doesn’t fit, do not except the project, task, etc.

Currently I have over 1,200 emails in my inbox alone. I believe I am at a good point to try out some of the suggestions. For the month of April I will pick two or three approaches and test them out. My barometer of success will be my response time. Does it improve? What is your best tip to stay on top of your emails and phone calls and make sure you respond in a timely manner? 

Melissa Flynn is passionate about her community and passionate about her job as the executive director for the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce. For the past seven years she has been creating a sense of place that has helped to transform the Lincoln Square community. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. Under her leadership in 2011, the Lincoln Square Chamber of Commerce achieved the highly coveted 3-star Accreditation from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

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