What to do when someone won’t get back to you

28th June 2016

Email Tennis. Telephone Tennis…

You know the sort of thing – you leave a message, they leave a message, you leave one back, they leave one back…

Or even worse – you leave a message. And they don’t reply. So, you’re faced with the joyous decision: chase and feel like you’re pestering; or wait and feel impotent?

I hate Email Tennis. So I don’t play it. Here are some things you can do instead:

  • If you work in the same office, walk to their desk
  • Change something. If you’ve chased by email and not had a reply, don’t send another email. Instead, ring them. Or – often better – text. People tend to reply to texts. Something like ‘Hi X, Let’s catch up today. I’ll call at 4pm. If this time doesn’t work, please text me a time you’d prefer’
  • During Conversation One, agree when you’ll have Conversation Two. And get it in both your diaries before you finish Conversation One – ‘Let’s avoid Telephone Tennis – that’s just a waste of our time. When would be good for you, for us to have our next chat? Let’s put it in our diaries now’
  • Confirm Conversation Two’s timing in any follow-up communications – ‘As agreed, I’ll call you at 10am on Thursday’
  • (Be careful with this one) If person X just won’t get back to you, ask one of their close contacts for her advice – ‘I’m struggling to get through to X. How would you advise I contact him?’

Which of these is best? Well, it depends on the situation, the person you’re speaking with, etc.

But I find a text often works well. And it makes sense. People get hundreds of emails a day – most of them boring. It’s easy for yours to get lost in the noise…

But they get fewer texts. And people tend to reply more quickly to them. Worth a try?

Action point

Identify the people who aren’t getting back to you. Now identify a new way to chase them. Remember: if your last chasing technique didn’t work, it probably won’t work next time either. So try something new. It’s often as simple as that…

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