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Do you demand lightning-fast email replies?

Email Response Time Expectations

One of the complaints I hear quite a bit about here @ [email protected] is response time. In this post, we’re specifically talking about personal emails between family, friends, and wannabe friends.

Onliners email me all the time asking why their emails are not responded to. Or why folks don’t take the time to at least respond in a reasonable amount of time.

Many believe that email is instantaneous and therefore so should be the reply. Once sent, the other side has your email and should stop right then and there and email you back. The reality is that’s not always possible.

“But they would receive a notice on their phone!” Well, believe it or not, not everyone has their email on their phone.

Many tend to take a lack of a fast response personally. When actually it may have absolutely nothing to do with you. More to do with the other side’s schedule. The fact is we don’t know anyone else’s schedule or availability. Or if they are able to meet our expectations.

Put Your Expectations in Check

To expect an immediate response is probably unrealistic. When a response is not received lickity-split to then follow up is typically not the best approach. To send a follow-up email (and in some cases another and another) within 30-60 minutes of the first can be perceived as demanding or pushy. Or worse, that you are digitally stalking the recipient.

Especially considering in many cases these follow-ups tend to increase the tone level with the increased use of question and exclamation marks. Yes, everyone should do their very best to respond to their emails as promptly as possible. However, the sender should also realize that the other side may be busy or otherwise occupied.

Sometimes folks have crazy schedules. They have other responsibilities and activities that require their full attention. They may be out of the office, on vacation — off-line having a life.

Just Ask

One way to help get a response is to simply ask for one. Explain why you need to hear from them quickly or note the desired time-frame. Most folks will do their best to accommodate your request.

The courteous approach is to give those you email time to respond. As a general rule of thumb is there is no need to send a follow-up any earlier than 24 hours from when you sent your first message. If you can’t wait 24 hours, then email is most likely not the appropriate method for your request.

If a matter is that important or urgent, pick up the phone and give the other side a jingle.

The Downside

There are two negatives that could be impacting you getting the response you desire. Doing spammy things in your email could cause your emails to go to the trash folder or be rejected. If you aren’t being spammy, then we have to be honest about why we may not get a response.

Being realistic and understanding that in some cases folks don’t want to respond. For example, someone you have a sour relationship with. Or an individual that you are trying to reach out to who is not interested in encouraging a relationship whether it be virtual or in person.

Your gut knows if that is the case. In these types of situations, it’s best you back off and allow time to take its course between communications. If a response is meant to be, you’ll get one eventually. If not, take a hint and communicate with those who are open to your messages.

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