Monthly Archives: September 2020

Are your replies to work emails dependent on the designation of the Sender?

Sending emails. One of those things that any employee does more than, perhaps actually working. 🙂

But then, do you treat all emails equally? I am sure the answer is a resounding ‘No‘.

Spam is usually relegated to the Spam bots to be moved away to a separate folder. And even if some find their way to your inbox, they are often treated with utter disdain, or in other words, Shift + Delete.

Corporate communication, unless it has the magic words like ‘promotion’, ‘compensation’ or ‘reorganization’, are often given only a few microseconds of eye time, before being ignored for eternity.

But what about emails from your colleagues? What do you usually do with them. I hate to generalize, but let me be blunt and tell you what most of us would do.

1. If the email is from your supervisor, or from someone whose designation trumps yours, then I bet all attention is given to the email, and a response is sent in the shortest time possible to respond.

2. If the email is from someone in the same rank as you, then usually the response is on a need basis, sometimes even depending on how you are feeling that day. 🙂

3. If the email is from someone whose designation is lower than yours, then more often than not, that email is parked somewhere, to be responded sometime later, like when your workload is light, or when you need to take a break, or maybe until the next ‘Gentle Reminder’, or two.

4. If the email is from someone you don’t know, then it is a whole different story. Let’s be honest. How many of us have right clicked on the sender’s name, tried to find the designation of the sender, who they report to, and if ‘the coast is clear’ relegate it to the state of ignorance, for eternity.

4.a. Sometimes, that random sender does play the game a little smarter, and makes sure to copy your supervisor in the email being sent. This does help in some instances when at least the email is given a little bit of more respect (as in point 1), but often gets a response only if the supervisor follows up on the email.

So my question is, why are we so ‘racial’ to emails, and why do we treat them so differently? Isn’t it just another window into how we are, and our behavior in real life? A question is a question. To answer or not, should not depend on who is asking the question. I’ve always believed if there is a direct question to you, it is always good manners to at least acknowledge the sender. You may be between something, and may not be able to get to the email immediately. But just sending out, “I will get back to you on this shortly”, sometimes makes a world of difference.

Respond to all the emails, no matter who sends them. It’s not just a good idea. It’s the right thing to do. 

So, the next time when you get an email that needs your response, and you know that you out-rank the sender and chose to ignore it. Or if you are itching to right click on the name and see what the sender’s designation is and who they report to. Think about this, there may be a time when you may need to urgently reach out for responses from colleagues who out-rank you. However high you are up on the corporate ladder, there will always be someone above you, who you may need to email and expect a time-sensitive response. And by the sheer law of physics, what goes around, comes around.

And Karma, as they say… Well you know what I mean. 🙂

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