Starting Email Mentioning No Reply?

Question to Ask the Workplace Doctors about failure to answer a call:

If I call a fellow employee or a manager on their office number & they are away for instance and do not answer, how can I mention this in an email? E.g. could the email start: Dear John, I tried calling your office number but there was no reply. I was emailing to ask….. Is this how to start such as email?

Signed, What’s Appropriate

Dear What’s Appropriate:

Yes, that is one way. Just using the individual’s name minus the “Dear” probably is more in keeping with workplace culture. Also you might begin by stating what you would have asked over the phone and then closing with “Yesterday I called to speak with you about this matter but got no reply.”

If the matter requires discussion, you could add, “Do you think we need to discuss this?” Email enables a record of your effort to communicate, so you are wise to use this second channel. Sometimes even if you have been able to speak in person or by phone, email can be a way to confirm what you have said or to check to learn if you understood what was agreed to.

It is good to keep the communication lines active and to not assume you are being stiffed when you get no response. Why? Because there are many reasons for not replying as rapidly as we wish. Sometimes there are more pressing matters. Other times, a phone or email message is lost.

A good rule of thumb is: Misunderstanding is the rule and understanding is the exception. So stay in touch and maybe someday you will even find the answer to such trivia as: Why doesn’t glue stick to the inside of its bottle. Working together with hands, head, and heart takes and makes big WEGOS, and that’s the kind of interdependence that pays off for all with whom you work.

*************************** From Tina Lewis Rowe: Let me provide another perspective, which may be useful to you. Unless you were supposed to call someone and want to make sure that person knows you tried, there isn’t a reason to mention the phone call at all. No matter how you word it, it sounds critical, as though you are saying, “I was working but you were away from your desk when I needed to talk to you.”If I were to receive an email that started with, “I tried calling your office number, but there was no answer” Or, “I tried calling your office number but there was no reply”, I would be irritated and would feel negative about the person who sent it, unless I had told them to call me at 2 pm (for example) and wondered why I hadn’t heard from them. I would also wonder if that person had told someone else he or she tried to reach me, but I didn’t answer the phone.So, my suggestion is to just send your email and don’t comment on not getting an answer when you called, unless there is a valid reason for you to establish that you tried. Best wishes!

William Gorden