I started not to listen to this week's cast on contacting recruiters because I'm perfectly happy where I am. But I did listen for two reasons. First I'm lousy at predicting the future and second, I usually pick up relevant information even when I'm not directly interested in the topic.

Mark had mentioned something about e-mails at the beginning and since I have uber strong opinions about it, I hung in there. I actually enjoyed listening to the cast (what am I now, a management geek? :wink:

I had requested information via email from someone at my corp. office two weeks ago. Dead silence. No reply. I do not know this person.

Last night I composed an e-mail carefully and politely pointing out that she had not responded. I took care to make it professional, not personal. I saved the e-mail as a draft until today so I'd have a chance to reread it. In the meantime, I listened to the recruiter podcast where [b]Mark pointed out that e-mail is a poor way to build a relationship. [/b]

I then threw out my original email and called her. Of course, I got her voice mail and left her a voice mail politely pointing out that she had not replied. I then forwarded my original e-mail to her referencing the voicemail.

By calling her, instead of e-mailing her, I've given her more of an opportunity to save face and to get our relationship back on track. I'd better hear from her tomorrow. Or I escalate it to her supervisor.

If you do not respond to a request from someone within a reasonable length of time, you are a selfish, insensitive, narrow-minded jerk. And those are your good points. I'm not suggesting that someone drop everything and work 3 hours that day to respond. I would have been perfectly fine with, "Glenn, I received your e-mail. I'm up to my neck in a project here and I'll respond to you fully within five days."

If you are traveling or on vacation your outgoing voice and e-mail messages should reflect that you are out of office with limited communication ability.

BTW, don't give me that crud about the 500 e-mails you get every day. When someone says they're too busy, it usually means that the task they're too busy to do is not important to them.

It's been a long couple of days (but I have been effective). Thanks for letting me vent. Keep up the good, hard work guys. I'll be listening.

Mark's picture
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Glenn -

Thanks for the kind words.

And, isn't diversity great? I sure disagree with some of your characterizations.

I think a little forgiveness is probably a healthy thing for the situations you've mentioned. I think politely pointing out that someone hasn't replied to a request may also be a negative to relationship building. I think a second mail, with a polite and casual reminder to the first - tone being criritcal - is what I would do.

And, I'm not so sure that one missed email requires someone to save face.

Let's just assume that the uncommunicative recipient is not a jerk, but have a family emergency. We'd appreciate the same consideration, surely.

Glad you were just venting! ;-)


GlennR's picture

Okay, this discussion is best conducted sitting across from each other with lots of our favorite adult beverages. :D

But since we can't, let me update, and flesh out the situation. First, you'll be happy to know that I did feel much better after writing the post and my blood pressure has since returned to its usual high normal.

Second, I failed to tell you that I had sent her 3 e-mails over a three week period of time that she had not replied to. I had also asked around and found that she was notorious for not returning e-mails.

So, after listening to your cast, I revised my original strategy which was to contact her by e-mail only. Remember, I didn't have a relationship with her. Instead I called and left her a voice mail. In it I referenced the e-mails and re sent them once I hung up.

Results: By Thursday evening, I received a profuse apology in an e-mail along with a voice mail also apologizing. I believe this was a direct result of calling first, then following up with the documentation.

We now seem to be back on the right footing. Life is good. (As long as she responds more quickly in the future.)

At the same time, I also had a situation where someone I do have a relationship with, who is above my pay grade, overlooked a critical request for assistance. I knew she was on deadline and waited for a week after her project was completed. At that point I did communicate via e-mail using humor to remind her about the request. She responded within five minutes apologizing profusely.

So, here's the lesson I learned. When you do not have a relationship with some one, other forms of communication are preferable to e-mail, especially when sorting out problems.

The problem, as I see it, is that too many people default to using e-mail [b]only[/b].

I consider myself in the business of serving internal and external customers. Here are my ground rules for responding to requests:
1. When I receive a request, I acknowledge that request the same business day, or within two hours the next day, giving them an estimated length of time it will take me to fulfill that request if I can't do it immediately.
2. If I am out of the office, I enable my "out of office" e-mail message which tells people I have limited ability to communicate and when I am returning. My signature block contains my office and cell phone, along with my main switchboard number so that external customers will not be trapped in voice jail.
3. My voice mail message changes weekly and contains my name, my weekly schedule, instructions on how to access the main phone number, and a pun. Yes, a pun. It's refreshing to hear the laughter of people as they leave a message. Thank you Fish! Philosophy. (Also instructions on how to bypass my outgoing message and leave their's immediately.)

I've heard the following quote attributed to Dale Carnegie although it also sounds like it could have come from Peter Drucker: "90% of all management problems are caused by miscommunication." Now you might quibble about the exact percentage, but I believe the quote to be true. (You can also substitutue the word "marital" for "management :D)

Finally, I would have first verified that there was no personal reason for not communicating. I've got two boys and I know the way to the ER blindfolded.

Regards (and Cheers!)


Mark's picture
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Cheers indeed! Well done!