Want to get a response? Ask me how!

Do you ever feel like that tree which falls in the forest and never finds out if anyone heard its thunderous tumble?

Yo, dude, didn’t you hear that?

If you write emails, for work or personally, and wonder if your communique went spiraling off into the ether never to be seen or heard from again, this tip is for you.

Ask a question.

Say what?

That’s what I said, simply ask a question. Even if your email is of a purely information-disseminating purpose, you still want to be sure the recipient got and read it, don’t you? Then just ask.

Look at the difference between these 2 email messages:

“We will deliver your job to you on Monday between 11 am and 1 pm.”

As the recipient, I’m happy to get this information. I will make an effort to be where I need to be on Monday between 11 am and 1 pm in order to get my job. I don’t feel compelled to respond to the email, I’m just receiving the information, making a note of it, and will be here to get the job. No one asked me to respond to the email, so I won’t spend my time doing that.

The sender of the email might wonder if the message was received. Did it go to spam? Is the person out of the office? Will someone be there to accept the job? Is there a more convenient time to send the job? Unless the sender composes and launches another email, or calls, she will never know the answer until the driver comes back with the job, saying no one was there to receive it.

Or, you could add a couple of words followed by a question mark:

“We will deliver your job to you on Monday between 11 am and 1 pm. Will you please confirm this works for your schedule?”

Ta da! The recipient now knows she has to respond. “Yes, that time is perfect, see you then.” Now there is no mystery. Problem solved.

The humble question mark serves as a prod to get the reader of your email to give you a response. When people see a question mark, they know in the most fundamental sense that some action is required of them and they will (should!) experience a degree of cognitive dissonance until they give that response.

My guess is that, once you start getting into the habit of posing questions in your emails, your response rate will skyrocket!

Do you see how easy this is?

And check out the Allman Brothers considering the same problem…

About the author

I am a third generation printer, and a second generation owner of Curry Printing. Ink (pms 185!) must run through my veins! As a "working owner," I am at Curry every day, working in and on my business. The old adage is true...if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life!

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