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I work with two people who expect me to reply to every single email they send. Even if it doesn't warrant a reply. This is daunting to keep up with, because needless to say they email a lot. At the very least they expect an "I got it." I have a real problem with this, because it doesnt allow me any flexibility to clean through my inbox effeciently. Essentially, they are both older and to my best guess don't trust email. My boss is also big on communication and I don't disagree, but if they say something to her, she automatically thinks the worst because she strives to respond to people in a timley fashion. I do as well, but I think it needs to be within reason. I don't want to waste my life answering emails all day and never getting anything done. If you send me a report, I don't need to let you know I got it, I'm just going to look at the report. If I'm being CC'd on something, I probably look to make sure that the issue was handled and just delete it. 

What's the best way to handle this situation? I feel like there are two issues at play. How would you handle the two co-workers who expect a reply constantly and how do I show my boss that I am replying, but not to the level they expect and that it's okay? 

 

pb1495's picture

Alex,

I formerly thought pretty much as you, but I've found that most folks I work wih appreciate knowing that I've read their e-mails and that I'm prioritizing their request.  It takes only a few seconds, it makes them happy, and I look like the best team player on the planet.

- I don't reply to cc e-mails unless I have something to say.

- I probably fit your definition of 'older.' The folks who appreciate my short affirmative replies are -- far and away -- younger than me.  Trust me, it's not an age thing.  You young whipper-snappers like it too!

- I presently have six e-mails in my in-basket.

In summary, if it makes them happy and it takes little effort on you part... and if it makes your boss happy... dude.

Mark

mmcconkie's picture

I agree with Mark above. It shouldn't take you long to reply to them just to say that you got the email. To make it faster, you can use custom signatures to just have a prepared response that is just a click away (that will also make you look very considerate as it can be 3 sentences long instead of just 2 words). If your company doesn't use Outlook, then you can use canned responses in gmail. I would recommend something along the lines of:

"Thanks for sending the email. I've got it and I'll get back to you if I end up having any additional thoughts or feedback. I appreciate you keeping me in the loop. 

Best,

Alex Smith"

If you want to get really advanced, I'll bet that you could set up a rule to have this auto reply to those specific individuals who are always looking for a response (https://www.extendoffice.com/documents/outlook/3552-outlook-auto-reply-t...). 

Good luck,

mmcconkie

kylekrom's picture

I created a macro for MS Outlook to generate a simple "thanks" response with one click. Easy for me to send, and eases their minds:

Sub Thanks()
    Dim original As Outlook.MailItem
    Dim reply As Outlook.MailItem
    Set original = Application.ActiveExplorer.Selection(1)
    Set reply = original.reply
    reply.Subject = "Thanks! (eom) " & original.Subject
    reply.Body = ""
    reply.Display
End Sub
 
Kyle

jrb3's picture

Just be thankful they don't also expect you to respond back within minutes.  Had co-workers suffer in previous jobs where email was supposed to be responded to faster than telephones.  (!)  Took them weeks to recover, even in our team-dedicated room with no external communications ....

Email is designed to be handled at the receiver's convenience.  I batch my emails, per Mark's recommendation, and will take something more time-sensitive over to phone, where it belongs.  Someone doesn't like the delay of email?  I tell them kindly to call instead -- no delay!  If they then act like I'm poking them with an umbrella by saying so, that's their issue, not mine.