Has someone taken a bit too long to reply to your email?
Maybe you know they have a busy schedule, and you want to highlight that by writing “I understand you are busy” in a follow-up email.
However, is this the only way to show that you appreciate their busy schedule?
- I know you are busy
- I hope I’m not interrupting
- If you get a second
- I appreciate that you have a busy schedule
- I don’t mean to interrupt your busy schedule
- Forgive me for the interruption
- You might not have the time, but
- I know your work comes first
- If you could spare a moment
Keep reading to learn how to say “I understand you are busy” professionally and politely. You can also look through the examples provided.
1. I Know You Are Busy
One of the best ways to appreciate someone’s busy schedule is by saying “I know you are busy.”
Using “I know” makes it a confident phrase. It shows that you appreciate that someone might not have the time, but you still need to hear from them.
We recommend using it when sending a follow-up email to your boss. It shows that you realize they’re quite busy, but you also need them to reply to something you said previously.
You may also review the following email example:
2. I Hope I’m Not Interrupting
Generally, “I hope I’m not interrupting” is a great synonym for “I understand you are busy.”
It shows that you don’t want to mess up someone’s schedule. However, sometimes, you have to interrupt someone to get a response.
You may want to use this when emailing your colleagues. It works better when you’re asking for help rather than looking for a response to a previous email. So, ensure you have a close relationship with your colleague before using something like this.
Here’s a sample email to show you more about how it works:
I hope I’m not interrupting your flow. However, I could really do with some help trying to sort out these issues.
3. If You Get a Second
You can also say “if you get a second” to let someone know there is no pressure on replying to you. Instead, it shows that you are following up on a previous email and would like a reply whenever they are free.
We recommend using it when emailing clients. It’s very polite and respectful. Generally, it won’t offend your client if you include something like this in your emails. So, it’s worth using it when you need a response, but you don’t need it ASAP.
Also, this example should help you understand it better:
If you get a second, can you reply to my previous email? I would like to hear your thoughts on the situation.
4. I Appreciate That You Have a Busy Schedule
To come across as respectfully as possible, you could say “I appreciate that you have a busy schedule.”
It shows that you know someone is busy, but you still require their assistance.
We recommend using it when emailing a supervisor. After all, it shows that you respect them enough to know they’re busy. However, sometimes, whatever you need help with is too important to wait any longer.
Here’s a great email sample if you’re still unsure:
I appreciate that you have a busy schedule. However, I really need your help with this matter.
5. I Don’t Mean to Interrupt Your Busy Schedule
“I don’t mean to interrupt your busy schedule” works well when emailing your boss.
It shows that you have something important to discuss with them. However, it also shows that you respect they have a busy schedule.
Generally, this phrase works when asking for a reply to an email. It shows you understand why someone has taken a long time to reply. It also shows that you’d appreciate it if they could go back and reply now, as you’ve waited long enough to hear from them.
We also recommend reviewing the following email example:
Dear Ms. Tate,
I don’t mean to interrupt your busy schedule, but please review my previous email. I’m keen to hear your thoughts.
Thank you so much,
6. Forgive Me for the Interruption
Another way to say “I understand you are busy” is “forgive me for the interruption.” It works really well because it shows you have interrupted someone’s busy schedule.
It’s a very aware phrase that implies you plan on interrupting someone even though you know they’re busy. You may use it when emailing a supervisor or someone you look up to.
Generally, it’s a respectful way to apologize for asking them for something. So, you may use it when asking them to reply to an email you sent them previously.
You may also review this example:
Forgive me for the interruption, but I’m sending a follow-up email about the situation. Please reply immediately.
Thank you so much,
7. You Might Not Have the Time, But
It’s wise to use “you might not have the time, but” when emailing your boss. It shows that you’d appreciate a reply to a previous email, even though your boss may be too busy to indulge your request.
Generally, this phrase is very respectful. We recommend using it to show that you truly appreciate how hard your boss works and don’t want to do anything to cause them problems.
However, you should note that it’s not confident. It shows that you look up to the recipient, and they may not decide to respond to your previous email unless it’s important enough to them.
Here’s an example to show you more about it:
Dear Ms. Bridge,
You might not have the time, but can you please reply to my email from earlier this week? I need to hear your answer.
8. I Know Your Work Comes First
You may also say “I know your work comes first” in a follow-up email. It shows that you respect someone’s busy schedule and do not want to rush them to reply.
However, you may have sent them a very important email previously. If they still haven’t replied, it’s wise to send a follow-up message to tell them that you expect to hear from them.
Therefore, this phrase is best when emailing colleagues. It shows that you don’t want to pressure them because you don’t have authority over them.
Check out this example to see how it works:
I know your work comes first, but my previous email contains very important information. Please review it and reply ASAP.
All the best,
9. If You Could Spare a Moment
Another great phrase to use instead of “I understand you are busy” is “if you could spare a moment.” It’s a respectful and polite way to ask someone to respond to your email.
“Spare a moment” shows that you understand someone has a lot of work. That’s why it works best when asking your boss to reply.
We highly recommend it if you respect your boss. It’s a great way to get into their good books and shows that you are a reasonable employee who doesn’t expect them to reply until they’re ready to do so.
You can also refer to the following email sample:
If you could spare a moment, I would appreciate a reply to my last email. You’re the only employee yet to confirm attendance.
Martin holds a Master’s degree in Finance and International Business. He has six years of experience in professional communication with clients, executives, and colleagues. Furthermore, he has teaching experience from Aarhus University. Martin has been featured as an expert in communication and teaching on Forbes and Shopify. Read more about Martin here.