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Get an Answer Already! How to Deal With People Who Won’t Respond

By | Ashley Cobert |

Do you ever feel like you’re shouting into a black hole when you send an email or leave a voicemail for someone? You put your request out into the universe—and then sit at your desk with your fingers crossed, hoping for a timely response.

Thanks to my job in the PR world, I’ve seen it all when it comes to unanswered messages. I’ve managed correspondence with CEO clients (a.k.a. the perpetually busy ones), the executives and legal teams of my clients’ clients (a.k.a. the ones who think I’m not important), and the media (a.k.a. the ones who don’t want to deal with PR people). And along the way, I’ve learned a lot about how to get answers when you need them.

No matter the cause for the delay, here are some tips for getting those busy (and yes, annoying) slow responders to pay attention.

Make the Connection

First and foremost, when you connect with another person, you must give him or her a reason to want to help you.

Start by avoiding mistakes that instantly disconnect the receiver. Spelling his or her name wrong is a good example: I know it’s basic, but I can’t tell you how many emails I get for Ashely or Ashleigh—and when I do, I find myself instantly annoyed and less likely to respond quickly. Also, try not to sound like a sales pitch (for example, “I’d like to talk to you about…”)—no one wants to deal with that.

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