A site visitor writes:
My brother-in-law never acknowledges messages that I send to him unless I ask him a direct question…and, even then, he sometimes fails to respond…so I have no way of knowing when, or if, he’s received my message…or what he thinks about it. What’s the etiquette here?
The proper etiquette is to have the courtesy to reply as soon as possible. Sometimes folks have busy schedules, are away from their computers or in some cases did not think a reply was necessary. But that doesn’t negate the courtesy in replying eventually.
What you want to do is reply as soon as you possibly can. There is an expectation of a speedy reply with email and this is one of the dilemmas I get emailed about quite a bit. If you don’t respond, the other side will assume you are ignoring them. To that end, I’ve had site visitors reply that “they intended to ignore” the person they didn’t respond to. Well, that is your choice.
Most times, however, I don’t think onliners are purposely making a decision to ignore those who send them email. But in our rush-rush, never-enough-time culture it is easy for many to do just that.
From a Senders point of view, make sure your email is clear and concise and one that the recipient will want to read and reply to. For example, I do my best to reply to every single email I receive. That said, some emails, such as “What is E-mail Etiquette?” do not receive my response. I have an entire site that covers that if one were to take just a few moments to look.
You also should not expect a reply from forwarded emails where you don’t take the time to type a personal message as to why you are forwarding that email to that particular person. If you can’t make that effort — you shouldn’t expect a reply.
I think some folks are so “all about me” that they really don’t think about how their lack of response effects those who care about them. In that case, I would have to reconsider why you continue to email someone who cannot even show you the simple courtesy of a reply.