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Author Topic: when people do not respond to your emails...  (Read 2440 times)
highwall
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« on: May 07, 2012, 5:50:46 PM »

I tried to contact two of my former professors and both did not respond for days. I know they are still teaching and do not have a heavy duty this time. I was in bad terms with one, but was in good terms with the other. Both are close friends, however. So, when people do not respond to your emails, what do you assume? Purposefully ignoring you? Just busy? Oversight (even when you send twice of three times)? Something happened to them?
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systeme_d_
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No T, no shade. Usually.


« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2012, 5:56:44 PM »

In such cases, the first thing I suspect is that my email was eaten by their spam filter.  

Many universities set them so high that almost any email without a thatspecificuniversity.edu address is put in quarantine, or sent straight to the spam folder.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 5:56:59 PM by systeme_d_ » Logged

bioteacher
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Confused and sad. Or happy. I'm not sure...


« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2012, 6:01:48 PM »

+1 to the spam concern. Pick up the phone and call them. Tell them you sent an email a week ago and suspect that the spam filters ate it.

When you leave a message, say your name clearly and repeat your phone number 2x (SLOWLY). I'm willing to bet they'll be in touch with you soon after getting your message. And you might be lucky and catch them in their office!
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merinoblue
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« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2012, 6:10:15 PM »

All of those, and then some.  Usually I imagine the most paranoid scenario before reason sets in.

Most of the time, they're tremendously busy.  They've seen my message but can't get to it.  When they do, they're apologetic (and harried-sounding).

If it's time-sensitive, I would call them.  If it's not, wait two weeks, and re-send your original message, with a short preamble to the effect of, "I apologize if you've been too busy to reply, but I just want to make sure that my message arrived."

Or, you can post something in the mail to them.  That's my favourite way to get someone's attention, if there's time. 
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chaosbydesign
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2012, 6:28:24 PM »

I usually just assume they'll get around to it when they can -- you don't know how many other things people are busy with that take priority over emails (depending, of course, on how important your email actually was in terms of getting a quick response). Just because someone doesn't have a lot of teaching doesn't mean they don't have close grant deadlines etc. that they're trying to meet.

If something is important or time-sensitive and I haven't received a response, I usually drop by their office and ask if they have a minute to discuss whatever the thing was, or ask if there's a good time for me to come back -- sometimes it's quicker to just ask a question in person than it is to go through email.
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burnie
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« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2012, 7:34:41 PM »

A problem I've been running into lately:  I am checking email on my smart phone and get a message that is either low-priority, or requires a much longer answer than I am willing to peck out with my thumbs, so I save it to reply to on my laptop.  The only problem is that sometimes I forget to "mark as unread" and original message falls off my priority inbox list, so I unintentionally forget to reply.   It's a horrible thing to do and I have been far more careful about flagging emails I have to reply to, but for a while I had a few confused faces appear at my door asking, "did you get the message I sent you last week?"  So now I have a note in my syllabus that explains that emails can go astray and asks students to allow 24 hours for a reply and invites a follow up email / phone call if they don't hear anything after that time.  As the others said, if it's time sensitive, then don't be shy, just assume the best of the person you're trying to reach - they're probably not ignoring you on purpose.
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fizmath
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« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2012, 8:19:50 PM »

Send a letter in the mail?
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2012, 9:44:16 PM »

For "days"? How many days? Give them at least a full week before you get impatient.
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betty_p
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« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2012, 10:39:56 PM »

Bad terms + former professor + presumption of "close friendship?"

If I were that professor, you wouldn't be hearing from me at all unless your e-mail was of the fence-mending variety. If you were mending fences, you still might not hear from me until I'd gotten over my pique (which I, personally, would do pretty quickly, but there are those out there who abide by the motto, "piss me off, pay the consequences").

As for the other professor, if the message is urgent (e.g., recommendation deadline approaching rapidly), call.
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chaosbydesign
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« Reply #9 on: May 07, 2012, 11:01:55 PM »

presumption of "close friendship?"

I assumed that the OP meant that their professors were close friends with each other, not with the OP. I could be wrong, though.
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highwall
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2012, 11:28:55 PM »

presumption of "close friendship?"

I assumed that the OP meant that their professors were close friends with each other, not with the OP. I could be wrong, though.

This is what I meant. I am not friends with them, but they are with each other. Since I am not in good terms with one, I wonder if that person persuaded the other person to push me away somehow. But it could be that my email fell into a spam box or he is busy.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 11:29:36 PM by highwall » Logged
oldadjunct
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LIFO. Enough said.


« Reply #11 on: May 08, 2012, 12:17:44 AM »

Hummmmm, the Magic Eight Ball assumes it is time for a phone call.  If you are not willing to make the call, well then...tough luck... you and they have different definitions of "close friends", dontcha.
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tinyzombie
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« Reply #12 on: May 08, 2012, 7:11:08 AM »

Hummmmm, the Magic Eight Ball assumes it is time for a phone call.  If you are not willing to make the call, well then...tough luck... you and they have different definitions of "close friends", dontcha.

Uh, read the OP's post just above yours. OP is not close friends with either professor.

I still say that if the emails were sent under a week ago and you didn't make it clear that you needed an immediate response, OP, then you need to cool your jets.
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I think we have three of them, but the smallest one seems to be the leader.
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polly_mer
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Have you worked on that project today?


« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2012, 8:04:37 AM »

I still say that if the emails were sent under a week ago and you didn't make it clear that you needed an immediate response, OP, then you need to cool your jets.

This.

As others have said, for time-sensitive things, call.

For non-time-sensitive things, let a week or two pass and then send a follow-up email.

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zharkov
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« Reply #14 on: May 08, 2012, 8:49:49 AM »

If the email is equal to or less than a paragraph long (say 4 or 5 sentences) and requires a couple or so minutes for the reader to respond to, then a few days for a response seems reasonable.  I'll add given that the subject line is easy to understand and specific.  Naturally, this would be different if the email was from a colleague or student, and especially so if the timing of the response was important.  In that case, I'd say a day or two would be appropriate.

But if you send a lengthy email to someone who needs to draft a lengthy response?  And you have no current relationship with him or her?  I'm not so sure you can expect a response.  It is often better to draft a brief email and request a phone or face-to-face meeting instead. 

YMMV. 

« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 8:50:28 AM by zharkov » Logged

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Adapting Zharkov a bit to this situation, ignorance and confusion can explain a lot.
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