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Why do People Not Respond to E-mail?

As I spend more time in the consulting arena, I get less patient rgarding the courtesy of a short e-mail response to let me know an ETA or the status of a project that I own driving to the finish line other than reading and ignoring e-mail. The easy answer is for me to just to call of course, That being said, I would love to tap the insights of others, how do you deal with this issue?


Topic Expert
Wayne Spivak
Title: President & CFO
LinkedIn Profile
(President & CFO, |

It may be related to two issues

1. CYA. If it's not in writing (yada, yada, yada)

2. Over saturation of e-mail (the "not another e-mail syndrome).

Then again, it may not be related.

Title: CFO
Company: C-Suite Services
LinkedIn Profile
(CFO, C-Suite Services) |

Texting works for me. People are almost never away from their phones for long and a simple text back is a lot easier than opening up their laptops/computers and check/answer their emails.
Q: ETA of delivery
A: 10 days, no issues.
Q. Thanks

My staff knows that a simple answer/text back will suffice unless they have issues and they can always call me in case SMS will not be enough. Warning....just use it judiciously. No one wants to receive SMS messages from their boss every 30 minutes after office hours.

Also, workplace messaging services like Slack (and a lot more) have phone/SMS integration if that suits your purpose/budget/need.

On a broader perspective, email is my last option for communication. I encourage my staff/others to have the same priorities. I use it only if I really want to document the conversation or I am just answering back. Some will even say that they feel a bit of anxiety when they receive an email from me.
1. face to face
2. pick up the phone
3. text/messaging service
4 email

Andrea Jordan
Title: Fiscal Officer
Company: City of Philadelphia
(Fiscal Officer, City of Philadelphia) |

Picking up the phone is easy, quick and personal. I feel like I get to connect to the person; next best thing to being there. On the flip side, I send an e-mail when I need to document the communication.

Dan Kardatzke
Title: CFO
Company: Solstice Mobile
(CFO, Solstice Mobile) |

I use Asana with my team to track projects/tasks and get out of email. Our CEO uses UpdateZen with the Exec Team which limits you to 250 characters or less for short, quick updates.

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

From my experience, I follow an email with a phone call. Absolute habit. Well, up until this last Monday. I had a potential client convince me he wanted to have me take a look at their current financial app and create a new one that functions similarly but adds connectivity(the current system runs on Windows 97, and was written so long ago that the original software designer died.

I was so convinced that I thought he was waiting with baited(bated?) breath to receive my email to set up the time.

Due to current demands, I did not have the time to follow up with a phone call.

And, it has been a week, and I have not heard from him.

It is rare that I do not progress the opportunity, if I follow my normal email->phone call routine.

Ronald Reck
Title: Consultant
Company: R2 Campu$ Management
LinkedIn Profile
(Consultant, R2 Campu$ Management) |

I find that people do not answer the phone or return phone calls either. Assistants are often trained to, or adopt the habit of telling the caller (no matter who it is) that the person you're trying to reach is busy.

In one recent case, I went to the person's office and stood at the front desk until she came out to see me.

It's just the times we live in I guess.

Ern Miller
Title: Co-CEO
Company: Miller Small Business Solutions
(Co-CEO, Miller Small Business Solutions) |

That's the times we have always lived in. To get people to buy, we have to build trust, and that is done by rapport. In person builds the most rapport. On the phone, next, and least effective email. Each asks for trust to buy. And each has diminishing effectiveness.

Inversely, emails are fast and easy to ask for a buy. The phone is less easy, but far easier than in person.

All of it makes for a marketing investment scheme, adjusting levels of each according to each company's business.

Sara Voight
Title: Controller
Company: Critical Signal Technologies, Inc
(Controller, Critical Signal Technologies, Inc) |

When it comes to responding to work and active projects, it needs to be a priority to communicate regularly and in a complete fashion. Don't overpromise something which results in your having to hide from the phone or the door. When something does come up that will impact a key deliverable, take the lead and let people know. It is much better to be on the front end than at the back door wondering why everyone is upset. For me, this usually means an in person or phone conversation followed by a summary email to document what was discussed.

Since I have clients at many companies, the idea of having a different portal or tool to log onto and maintain is also a huge downer. Just for daily passwords, I have a list over 70 long that I have to maintain and update every 60-90 days. That list does not include my personal sites.

For people who don't respond to me when I am waiting on something key to complete something they need, I just copy the boss. I don't do this on the first or second try, but when a deadline is looming and I am about to take the hit for things not getting done, I start to include everyone on my communications.

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