Make It Easy to Respond to Emails

Is email your love language?

Whether spouse to spouse or client to client, communication is key in a relationship. It’s important to know someone is listening, feel heard and understood, and process information to move forward in healthy and productive ways.

It doesn’t matter if the question is “What’s for dinner?” or “Where are we on this project?” We still have to do the same thing: respond.

In your inbox, this may feel like a daunting task. You would not be alone in feeling this way: The average American has nearly 200 unread emails.

Here are three ways you can manage your inbox so that your contacts feel the love.

Respond in a Thoughtful Manner

When you don’t reply to a personal email you are sending a signal that you are too busy to care. This may not be what you intend to broadcast.

We specify “personal email” because not all emails are the same. And we specify “thoughtful manner” instead of “timely manner” because not all questions and responses are the same. Only you can define those fields. Some emails may warrant a longer, thoughtful response, doled out after a few days of thinking. Other emails may warrant a quick “Thanks for sharing!” Not all emails are created equally and not all moments are suitable for your response. What is important is that you don’t let the important ones fall through the cracks.

So, if a friend, family member or colleague emails you with an important question, and you know the answer, your reply will only take a minute, and you’re free in this very moment—send the email!

Start with ‘Thank You’

You may know someone who is often running late. You may know someone who is often apologizing for running late. You may be that someone. Likely, at one point or another, we have all been that someone.

So, wouldn’t it be great to flip the conversation?

Let’s take a cue from Thomas Friedman’s Thank You For Being Late and lead with “thank you.” If you find yourself responding to an email later than you should have, consider starting with something like, “Thank you for your question! I appreciate you waiting for my reply.”

Practice Healthy Emailing Yourself

We get what we give. When we set up boundaries and expectations, it can actually help people communicate with us.

Whenever possible, be clear in the emails you send. Keep it short and sweet. If you need a quick response, ask to hear back by a certain time. Likewise, if something isn’t urgent, make that clear. Need a reply and haven’t heard anything? Send a gentle nudge.

Our inboxes can be stressful places. Taking out the guesswork can go a long way to alleviate email anxiety and lead to clearer communications.


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