E-mail replies: What to do with an Over-zealous Co-worker

by EPI Staff on April 28, 2011

Q: My coworker always replies to e-mails with “Will do!” or “Thanks!”-unnecessary messages that clog my in-box. How do I ask her (nicely) to stop?

A: Those accumulated e-mails can be an annoying time waster. Having an honest, upbeat chat (face-to-face or via phone) with her. Say, ” I really appreciate your friendly, thorough communication, but I trust you to do what needs to be done, so you don’t have to write back every time you hear from me. Instead, let’s check in via e-mail every Friday if we need to review. Thanks!”

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Just Laura April 28, 2011 at 10:35 am

I agree with the advice, but I’ve had so many employers and clients who would call me or email back to “make certain I’d gotten the previous email” and why couldn’t I just take a moment to respond so they’d know I’d read it?

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Sara Z April 28, 2011 at 11:01 am

I agree; if she doesn’t respond, how is the sender supposed to know she received and/or understood the message?

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Eileen April 28, 2011 at 10:52 am

I think this is a situation where you need to know your company’s culture. At my office, everyone sends those emails, so if you tried to get people to stop, it would be a losing battle.

It can be annoying to get them all, but I try to remember its not so bad to be thanked or know that something is going to get done.

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Rebecca April 28, 2011 at 11:41 am

This is the most annoying to me in text messages, since my plan allows for a limited number each month. I really don’t need a text that says “ok”.

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Nina April 28, 2011 at 1:21 pm

I’m afraid I have to disagree with the advice. As Sara points out, on fast-paced projects, one often needs to get confirmation that the task will be carried out. If I ask a colleague, “Can you do this for tomorrow?” I can’t wait until tomorrow to find out that the answer is no, or that he never got the email. I guess it depends on the level of urgency and, as Eileen says, the company culture, but I love those two word confirmations–they help me sleep at night.

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Karen April 29, 2011 at 8:00 pm

Totally agree with you. I think there has to be accountability as well. I don’t feel I’m doing my job if I say, “Well, I DID send an email to so-and-so about the issue, asking them to take care of it…” without being sure that they will handle the problem, especially when you work in a fast-paced environment.

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Jody April 28, 2011 at 7:43 pm

In my work (a law firm) the “OK” or “will do” response is definitely appropriate. The attorney (or whoever e-mailed) then knows that the project will be done. If the project can’t be done, or the person can’t help, it’s important to know right away so that alternate arrangements can be made.

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JB May 4, 2011 at 5:05 pm

This is a great place to make use of the subject line — by placing your “Thanks” or “Will do by Friday” type of message here, there is no need to open the email; it may be read and deleted.

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