Common courtesy is no longer common—at least not in business, and not with email.
I don’t get it.
I’m busy, too. But you don’t have 20 seconds to type “No thank you” or “Can’t meet today” and press “send”? Really?
Only an asshole doesn’t respond to emails. It’s not just rude or disrespectful—it’s lazy.
It would be different if I were sending out “I just made 900 dollars an hour at home with Google” or whatever the latest spam scam is that hits your inbox.
But I’m writing to people about business—people I’ve met with—people who have initiated a conversation or meeting with me—who then don’t respond to follow-up emails.
Worse, I’m sending emails to people with whom I am currently doing business—and I get no reply. That’s “Does 10:30 tomorrow work?” and no reply. Seriously.
And, yes, the final category is people my company actually pays…who don’t respond. They seem to accept the money without any problem. It’s hitting “reply” that seems to be an excessive burden.
Email silence is passive aggressive and cowardly. It’s as though no response is “the new no.” It’s “sofa king” aggravating.
And, in some ways, slow response time is worse than no response at all. Responding days, weeks or even months later says “you’re not important to me” loud and clear. Response time is a non-verbal cue that speaks volumes about you as a person.
Please, people. Please. Email is already faceless. We’re not on the phone, we’re not sitting across from each other. But must it be discourteous?
How about this—how about setting up some time each day to go through email? Use an email management system if you need to (there are several out there). Be honest if you’ve missed some messages because of workload. Include something in your signature about when you normally reply. Check your spam folder. Do something.
It’s OK to respond with “no.” It’s OK to respond with “I’m sorry.” What’s not OK is not responding. It’s simply unacceptable. You’re in the business world. Even if you’re young, you’re an adult. Act like one.
Look, I get a gazillion emails. Really. But I try it answer people who write me. I may miss one. I may plan to respond later and forget. But I don’t plan to ignore anyone.
And I really don’t appreciate the asshats who ignore me.