Answering E Mail Communications

There is a lot of discussion on the internet about people who don’t answer emails. I am not entirely sure when and where this phenomenon started, but it has to be one of the most annoying aspects of modern day communications.

Most of my emails that I send asking someone else to do something (answer an enquiry, help me, provide some information) normally go unanswered.  I guess there is nothing in it for them so they don’t bother responding.

Not answering emails

One the basic things that we are taught during sales courses is the concept of networking. To me networking means that I reach out to others to get some sort of support or assistance. So if I really want your help I presumably helped you at some point. Otherwise why bother. So strictly from a self-serving perspective it makes complete sense that you should respond to my email communications. But I guess the reality is that most figure they will never need anybody for a job lead or other assistance. So they don’t answer. I’d like to send around a survey to ask them why and why they don’t consider it to be just rude.

In my opinion this is just downright stupid. Years may go by and you happen to run into someone that you ignored for no apparently good reason. And you’re off to the races or rather you’re not.

In the good old days when people used a telephone, it was much more difficult to avoid people unless you really made an effort.

Here is a great article from the New York Times that speaks to the issue: Is Anyone There?

Again, I think that it’s just plain rude. It’s just plan annoying. It’s just plain stupid. Many hide behind their computer saying that because of the volume of their email, they just can’t answer all of them. I appreciate that there is a lot of spam and garbage floating around out there, but it’s not all garbage.

Here are some reported reasons for people not answering their emails:

  • We want to say no to a favor asked, but feel guilty. “I want to say ‘no,’ but feel that the right thing is to say ‘yes,’ so I am frozen and then I plan on going back to the email to draft a reply, but it gets buried. Then I feel even worse for not replying and put it off again. It’s not nice to leave people hanging, but I do.”
  • It’s easier. “If people send me a message that I don’t want to deal with, it’s easier not to respond. At this stage, there are so many requests from my children, I can’t deal with requests from adults.”
  • Not replying sends a message. “Recently, a nanny asked me for a job reference. I don’t think the nanny deserves the reference. I thought about responding, but didn’t. To me, it’s easier not to say something.” “No response is the new no.”
  • We mean to write a thoughtful response, but never find the time. “Sometimes, I don’t answer because I don’t have time to give the response I think is deserved, so I put it off until later, then forget and the message winds up being that I didn’t care enough to respond, when, in fact, I cared too much.”
  • Replying will just result in more email. “Replying to e-mail is like slaying the Hydra. Once you answer one, it often generates a flurry of more emails.”

These are all self-serving lame excuses for bad behavior.

I wrote an email more than a few days ago to the so called director of a small business center offering pro-bono services to some of their small business members. No answer. The fact of the matter that this is the guy’s job. He’s there to answer enquiries made by email. So he is either stupid or incompetent, probably both. It’s small wonder that the planet is as screwed up as it is because people (mostly who are just lazy) fail to do their jobs and hide behind their computers. Shame on them!

answering email