Sometimes it’s necessary to nudge a response from someone, particularly in the case of email. We are all busy, with lots of information coming at us at what feels like a constant, rapid pace. When certain messages aren’t handled immediately, it is far too easy to let them sink unnoticed back in your inbox. Especially when new emails are coming through, demanding your attention!
However, when a well-intended nudge crosses the line into what feels like a push or a shove, the boundaries of “polite” have been crossed. No longer is the shield of courtesy in place. Things can begin to feel rude.
We definitely want to avoid this edgy experience. But on email the bind is there, as you really do want a person to respond to you. It’s only a guessing game when it comes to knowing why the recipient of your message hasn’t responded and it’s not polite to ask why you haven’t gotten a response.
As you walk the tightrope of waiting for someone to respond to your email and deciding if you should nudge a response, your mind may play with various scenarios of following up or how you will react when you finally hear from the person.
In order to remain in polite territory, keep the following suggestions in mind:
We’re always sensing the waters of “polite” to know where and when to put the oar in. Whether you choose to be subtle or direct when you nudge a response from someone, always intend to be respectful. Even if your gesture is not read that way, you’re in an easy line for a quick apology.
Next, decide if you should send a new email or if you should forward the previous message chain with your response request. This will depend on the importance and type of the information in the message chain.
Forwarding your previously sent email:
After the salutation when sending a new email:
It helps me to remember that when I get an email, the guideline is to respond within the first twenty-four hours. My response may be that I intend to respond later, but at least the person with whom I am corresponding knows that they are a priority, “John, I received your email and will get back to you this week after I have a chance to work on our proposal.”
We are all busy people and things slip away from us. This is why it is completely appropriate to nudge a response from someone. The key is to do so etiquette-fully, keeping kindness and respect at the forefront of your reminder.