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Replying to a business email

(29 Posts)
WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 21:44:18

How long is too long? And would you apologise for delay?

Email from someone v senior to me in organisation but not urgent

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 25-Nov-15 21:46:57

Well it's always worse to totally ignore someone. Apologise for the delay in getting back to them and then reply as you would have done.

Unless it's been six months or so? How old is the email?

WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 21:48:13

It's been three days, do I need to apologise do you think? Normally I would but don't want to get stuck in an apologising cycle!!

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 25-Nov-15 21:50:18

Depends, do you know them?

My senior executive sits at the desk next to mine, is my coffee break buddy and loves obscene jokes as much as I do. He gets responses along the line of 'no can do but will try something else' unless other 'important' people are on CC.

If it was someone I didn't know well I'd respond within a day or two, no apology but full 'dear's and kind regards.

All depends on context, really!

Ememem84 Wed 25-Nov-15 21:50:36

At work I'm technically meant to respond within 24 hours. Usually I can do this. But if I can't fully respond I send a holding email. Usually can get away with 72 hours at absolute most if it's a client.

If internal then as long as I can b

WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 21:52:42

Thanks, no i don't know them, have never met them.

I'm actually not in the workplace right now (not sure if that makes a difference?) so not in the habit of checking my emails every day. I really don't want to say this thiugh as it sounds silly!

Intend to reply first thing tomorrow, by which time it will have been just over three days... I really don't want to appear rude though blush

WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 21:53:16

They're not a client, they're a high up boss

AnchorDownDeepBreath Wed 25-Nov-15 21:55:44

Three days is fine, I would apologise for the delayed response because for me, three days is slower than normal, but I don't think you have to.

Just say "Hi (whatever they signed the email with),

Firstly, please accept my apologies for the delayed response to this." You could say "I'm currently working on a different site", or on leave, or something if you want to, but you don't need to.

Then just answer as normal and don't worry about it.

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 25-Nov-15 21:56:50

Dear X,
My apologies for not getting back to you any sooner. [no more mention of it, no reason, get straight down to business]
Kind regards, Wily

... would be my response.

Spellcaster Wed 25-Nov-15 22:01:51

Depends on the workplace culture or expectations. At my work, a week is normal, though I aim for a quicker response and definitely a "holding" email depending on what it is. Some workplaces would consider that a long delay! I wouldn't be too worried about it. If it's the first time this has happened, just respond normally. In future check more regularly though. Although, if you are part time, it should be made clear if you are expected to answer emails on your days off...!

Hopefullyoneday1 Wed 25-Nov-15 22:07:01

As above, I think it's good email etiquette to apologise.

I would say similar.....i.e sorry / apologies for the delay in responding / getting back to you. But as Magical says then get down to the reason behind the email, don't faff around with reasons why you didn't respond.

I always think emails should be short, polite and to the point 😁

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 25-Nov-15 22:15:35

I always think emails should be short, polite and to the point

Agreed! Also, I'm finding that with every rank I've risen in a given organization my email has roughly doubled (because everyone CC's you in on everything, mostly).

Being brief and to the point is actually courteous in this situation because you're not making someone read through five paragraphs of flowery language in order to get what they want out of your response.

(New graduate I'm in charge of, I'm looking at you! grin)

Pico2 Wed 25-Nov-15 22:38:59

If you don't check your emails everyday then you might want to have an automated response email that either suggests a colleague who could help with urgent enquiries or an alternative way to contact you.

AnnaMarlowe Wed 25-Nov-15 22:39:50

I have started trying not to apologise.

I had a bit of an epiphany reading a work email my DH had written about something that had gone wrong. If I'd written it I would have started with an apology, he went straight to the solution, lots of direct and positive language.

I started to notice that male colleagues very rarely apologise for anything (delays, mistakes etc). They aren't rude, they just don't take on unnecessary blame. I think women are socialised to apologise even when we aren't to blame.

If the email wasn't urgent and taking three days hasn't negatively impacted the work then I'd be inclined not to apologise personally.

Apologising draws attention to the delay and gives your boss a negative association with your name.

WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 22:41:14

Much appreciated, thanks all.

Don't mean to drip feed but I'm actually on a short sabbatical from work. So I'm not really currently in employment from this company. Will be going back after Xmas

WilyWindyMoors Wed 25-Nov-15 22:42:14

Thanks anna that's really interesting!

Yes that's what I'm starting to think. It absolutely doesn't delay things in this case (my not replying) so think I'll just launch straight into it, be polite etc.

Thank you

MagicalHamSandwich Wed 25-Nov-15 22:43:24

No apologies due to sabbatical, then, for the reason mentioned above. I only do it when I'm actually late and it matters (in my job more than two days but that depends).

You definitely should have an out of office response on, though.

AnnaMarlowe Wed 25-Nov-15 22:46:39

In which case definitely no apology but as Magical says you should have an OOO auto reply explaining that you are sabbatical and giving the name of an alternative contact.

Enjolrass Thu 26-Nov-15 06:58:18

I wouldn't apologise.

At a push I would say something like 'apologies for the delay in replying, as you are aware I am on sabbatical'

However I am shocked you went on sabbatical without putting on an out of office

LaurieMarlow Thu 26-Nov-15 07:59:34

Never explain, never apologise. Not sure who said it, but would bet good money it was a man.

Ultimately, people usually just want solutions to their problems.

Anotherusername1 Thu 26-Nov-15 08:30:58

However I am shocked you went on sabbatical without putting on an out of office

It is possible to forget to do it, but it should be possible to log in from home and do it, or ask someone in IT/HR/wherever to do it for you.

Send reply saying you are on sabbatical and giving alternative contact, or even better, forward email to alternative contact with senior person copied in and ask them to deal.

Put on OOO and enjoy your time off.

Enjolrass Thu 26-Nov-15 08:38:23

It is possible to forget to do it,

Of course it is. But the OP says she has been on sabbatical and is going back soon, also that she doesn't log on often.

Surely in that entire time it's occurred to her to do it or have it done.

Especially if people are emailing and she doesn't consider herself working there at the moment.

EBearhug Thu 26-Nov-15 08:56:29

If I am off for more than a week, my mailbox tends to fill right up and won't send any messages, and that's after removing myself from various email distros. So I wouldn't start complaining get about anyone else.

Don't apologise, unless you've actually done wrong, and not replying instantly to a mail when you're on a sabbatical is not wrong. Just reply to whatever the point of the mail is.

ceebie Thu 26-Nov-15 11:45:57

I agree with anna. I very rarely apologise for the same reasons anna gives.

Gasp0deTheW0nderD0g Thu 26-Nov-15 11:51:02

Where does it say that OP hasn't got an out of office message on? She may have one that says she is only intermittently monitoring email and there may therefore be a delay in replying. However, a very senior manager may still expect that his/hers will be one of the few emails she will respond to in detail while on this sabbatical.

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