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Unrealistic Response Expectations

Are your email response expectations unrealistic?

We can’t live without our email. And to think, a mere 27 years ago, when I was excited about CompuServe and opened my little Internet Studio on the IL/WI border, everyone thought I was nuts!

We want it now!

Fast forward, and we want everything now! Email should be in the recipient’s inbox instantly after we click the Send button. In most cases, it pretty much is. And they should respond the moment they are notified a new message arrives. Now! Not later, not in an hour, NOW!

Sometimes it does take a bit longer. But to think the other side should stop the presses and any other responsibilities they may have and answer our emails is a bit over the top.

Our expectations have become unrealistic.

There will be times when email takes longer to get to the other side. This could be due to unknown network or geographical issues. And, believe it or not, not everyone you email is sitting in front of their computers 24/7.

Nor does everyone have their email going directly to their phone to be instantly notified. I know it is hard to believe, but it’s true. I don’t.

Patience is a Virtue

Before assuming someone is ignoring you or is not responding as fast as you believe they should, consider the following:

  • Was there anything spammy in your email (big attachments, lots of formatting, no subject field) that may have caused it to be misidentified as junk mail? This happens all the time, especially with all the spyware, adware, and spam filtering going on. Maybe your email inadvertently landed in the recipient’s Junk or Trash folder. If they use free email services like HotMail and Yahoo, you can count on this happening. I always have issues getting emails front and center in Yahoo.
  • Remember that folks have other responsibilities and may be away from their computer or are unable to respond within moments (or even hours). Rare are those that provide instant responses because they address every single message the moment it comes through. So if something is that important that it can’t wait, pick up your phone and give them a call.
  • If the topic is not urgent, you can follow up the next day and ask if they received your email. Ask politely when you can expect a response before assuming you are being ignored.

There are probably times you are being ignored…

When I started typing about business email etiquette decades ago, I advised that we should all respond to every email we receive. Those that are not clearly spam, of course!

Over the years, I have changed my view on that. Spammers have also become more creative and not as spammy — but they are still spam.

So, when do I ignore emails?

  • When I receive sales-pitchy requests that do not apply to my specific niche.
  • When I get requests that clearly show they didn’t review my site. For example, I do not accept guest posts and note this on my websites. But I get asked that several times every week.
  • An email is sent on the premise of asking a question but in a confrontational, sarcastic, or argumentative tone.
  • After being helpful to a stranger and responding to questions only to receive a reply with no greeting, closing, or thank you that contains more questions.

These are just a few generalities, off the top of my head, of emails I ignore because I’d rather spend the time responding to emails that matter — to me. That is why it is so important not to assume just because you send an email that, you will even get a reply. Especially if you do not know the person and are “cold calling.”

I wrote a little rant article a couple of years ago based on my frustration with receiving emails that were not pertinent to me: 5 Reasons Why Your Business Emails Receive No Replies. Those situations could apply to anyone.

Ask to be Whitelisted

With new business contacts, always ask that they whitelist your address by adding your email address to their contact list/address book. Or if they are using Gmail (not sure why any business would do that — that’s another post), they can add you to their “approved senders” to ensure your emails get through.

The above issues require you think about the other side — not just that you sent an email to which you want a response — now.

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