Have you ever emailed a question or request to a colleague, only to get no response? It’s kind of hard to know what to do! You need the issue to be addressed – but at the same time, you don’t want to keep harassing the person and come across as an annoying pest.

I had this happen to me recently. I needed someone in another department to help me out with a project I was working on. I emailed my request and got no response. Time passed and I started to feel a little panicked. (I had a deadline to meet.) So I emailed again. And once again, there was no response.

Now to be fair, the colleagues that I was emailing were very busy people. And I suspect that my request was not a simple one. But I still couldn’t help feeling frustrated and powerless. I wasn’t sure how to proceed. How can you get people to respond to an email when they’re really busy and you’re probably not their top priority?

Author Ashley Corbert has a few suggestions…

  • Make sure your initial email is clear, concise, and amiable – Don’t write an epic email with multiple lengthy paragraphs of text. Keep it brief and be very clear about what you need from the other person. And be nice! Your request will probably take a certain amount of time and effort, so make sure your email has a warm and friendly tone.
  • Follow up – If you don’t get a response to your first email, it’s time to send another email. Re-send your original email, but include a new line of text that reminds the person about your original request. This email can sometimes be tricky to write, because you don’t want to come across as annoying. Just keep it brief and friendly, and you should be OK.
  • Call the person – If it’s been a couple days since you sent your follow-up email and you still haven’t gotten a response, try to call the person. If you can reach the person, you’re all set! If you can’t reach the person, leave a brief, friendly voicemail about your request.
  • Get your boss involved – If you’ve left a voicemail, and you STILL get no response, you might want to consider getting your boss involved. You could re-send your original email again, include a new, friendly line of text restating your request, and cc your boss. This might spur the person into action. But be warned – you do run to risk of angering your colleague.
  • Find additional support – Another option is to talk to someone who knows the person that you’re trying to contact and has a certain amount of influence over that person. Explain your situation (and be very careful not to be angry or accusatory). This influential individual might be able to push the person to finally respond to your request.


Corbert, A. (n.d.). Get an answer already! How to deal with people who won’t respond. The Muse. Retrieved from https://www.themuse.com/advice/get-an-answer-already-how-to-deal-with-people-who-wont-respond