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Not reading not listening

Have you ever had this happen to you?

You send a simple business email. It doesn’t contain any complex information, essentially just an action point with a defined timeframe.

It’s concise and clear, you’ve done your best to consider who you’re writing to, and to follow all the good practice principles. You want it to be understood and acted upon.

Then you get the reply.

You wonder if they’ve read the same email.

Now what do you do?Down the Rabbit Hole / Listening

Your first reaction is probably, “did you actually read my email”? Not the most diplomatic approach to take!

But seeing as you’d aimed for clarity the first time around, why would a rewrite be any improvement?

And doing one will eat into your precious time.

Still, this is an important business contact, so that’s what you try.

You send another well-crafted, even more finely-tuned email.

Their reply arrives…and before you know it, you’re disappearing down a rabbit hole, into seemingly never-ending tunnels of time-munching to-ing and fro-ing.



When you receive that sort of non-reply to an email that you are 100% confident was clearly written, then the responsibility lies with the reader.

And we’ve all been that reader on occasion!

It’s a known fact that people don’t read email ‘well’. We skim, we omit, we can only really handle one point at a time. Especially when we’re under pressure.

The thing is, when we don’t read an email properly, it’s not just that we’re not reading it.

It’s that we’re not listening fully.


So when you get a response that suggests you’ve not been listened to, resend the original email.

Add a note, saying that you think you may not have been clear in your original email, and asking how you can clarify things.

Put the ball in their court.

And give them another chance to listen to you.

This saves time, saves relationships, saves trips down the rabbit hole.


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