3 Golden Rules to Get People to Answer Your Emails

Today I was enjoying the mini-mastermind group that I participate in. One person brought to the table the challenge of getting people to respond to their emails. Lack of response is delaying the organizations progress (while also driving him nuts as the project leader). What should he do?

This is a great question! I hear this from small business owners and corporate leaders alike. So, how do you get people to give you the responses you need by when you need them? Follow these 3 golden rules and you’ll be amazed what happens.

3 Golden Rules to Get People to Answer Your Emails
Image: Calendar cards via Shutterstock

1) Set the Stage

People are busy. The average corporate user receives and sends 112 emails per day. Goodness knows the small business owner sends and receives at least as many. So, in the noise, how can you get someone to read and act upon something you send? Set the stage with them by:

  • Acknowledging them and letting them know that you know they are busy (or volunteering their time as was the case with my colleague).
  • Assure them that you won’t send them unnecessary emails, communications, or reply-all unnecessarily.
  • Educate them that some emails you may send them are simply communications while others will require their action. Set a specific standard for those requiring action on their part. Use Action Required or Response Required in the subject lines of those emails and let them know you’ll be judicious with using this call to action.

This is about teaching people what you expect from them while also letting them know what they can expect from you.

2) Be Succinct

If you require a response, get right to the question. Keep it simple. Just a few short questions maximum. Don’t combine with other communications or the questions will get lost in the shuffle. Make it quick, easy, and obvious for them to respond. Given them a specific respond by date.

3) Consistent Follow-Through

You need to do what you said you were going to do in step #1. That means you don’t turn into an “email-hole” sending excessive emails or getting carried away with the Action Required emails or start using those URGENT exclamation point thingys. Urgent is a rare occurrence, treat it as such or you will be the one who cried wolf and people will set up an automated email rule to put your emails right in the trash. You’ll spend all your time begging people for input and find your progress stalled.

Does this mean that if you follow the 3 golden rules that you’ll never find yourself waiting on a response? Of course not. People are busy and things get lost in the shuffle. However, if you follow these golden rules you just might find your job gets a lot easier, you get more done, and communications improve exponentially.

This post originally appeared on BlogHer.com

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