Asking for somebody to reply to your email can be a daunting task. Of course, you want them to give you a response for peace of mind, but you want to do it politely. This article will address the steps you need to follow to ensure you get this right!
1. Reply To The Same Email Thread
Replying to the same email thread is the most important thing you want to do. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, you’ll make it much clearer what you are asking someone to reply to. Secondly, it helps to keep both your and their inboxes clean.
You might think this one sounds quite obvious, but you would be surprised.
Many people have fallen at the first hurdle and sent a brand-new email to someone expecting a reply to something mentioned previously. While this can work if you make the email’s subject clear and obvious, it doesn’t help the recipient much.
For example, if you are expecting a reply from your boss, you might have want to check out the following:
- Original email subject: Wage Raise
- Reminder email subject: RE: Wage Raise
Here, we can see what it would look like when replying to the same email thread. The addition of “RE:” is automatic for most email providers (meaning “regarding”), which helps your boss to understand that you are asking them to reply to your previous email.
So, we could have an exchange like the following:
"Wage Raise" Dear sir, I'm writing this email to find out whether or not I'm entitled to an increase in wages for my hard work. Kind regards, Tom
Then, after a while of no response, Tom might want to follow up:
"RE: Wage Raise" Dear sir, I hope you're well. I'm just writing to find out whether you received my previous email. Is there any way you can let me know what you think about the content? Kind regards, Tom
See how easy it is to remind someone of the original email with a simple reply? If we started a new email thread, we would have to explain the whole email from scratch with an entirely new subject.
Also, if you do start a new email thread, it’s common for the subject to look something like this:
- “Regarding the recent wage raise email”
- “Wage raise reminder”
Both of these are quite rude in many formal contexts. That’s why it’s best not to use a new email thread. Stick to the original one.
2. Set Up The Email With A Greeting
Setting up the email with a greeting is something that can easily be overlooked. We do not mean a simple “dear sir” or “to ma’am.” We mean that it would be best to also start with a kind and polite gesture after you’ve used the typical email opener.
- Dear sir,
- I hope you are well
Is what we’re going for here. It would help you to do this because it’s a great way to build rapport with the person you’re speaking to.
That way, when it comes to reminding them to reply to your email, you’re showing that you are a polite person. After you’ve presented them with a kind greeting, they’re much more likely to return to your original email and reply accordingly.
If you want to know of some great email greetings after the openers, you can refer to the following:
- Dear sir,
- I hope you are doing well
- Dear ma’am,
- How has your weekend been?
- Dear Mr. Smith,
- I haven’t had the chance to congratulate you about…
- Dear Mrs. Darting,
- I’ve enjoyed my time working with you
We can use a phrase or a question, depending on what suits the subject best. The best way to figure out whether it works for your email is to ask yourself whether you’d say it to them in person.
The best (and most polite) email greetings are those that you know you’ll be happy to use to the person directly.
The more familiar you are with the recipient, the easier this will be. If you’re not too sure how they will react to a greeting or don’t know much about what’s going on in their lives, then a simple “I hope you’re well” is great.
3. Remind Them Of The Previous Email
Some people rush their response emails, meaning that they miss the overall point of what they’re asking for. It’s important that you remind the recipient what the contents of your previous email was (even if the subject makes it clear enough).
That way, there can be no grey area in the email. There is no way the recipient can try to dodge the response in some silly way. Instead, they’re forced to reply to what you’ve said because you’ve made it much clearer what you expect from them.
It’s best to include this reminder directly after the greeting we showed in the previous section.
There are plenty of ways to remind someone of the contents of an email, as you’ll see here:
Dear sir, I hope you are doing well. I am wondering whether you've read the email about the current climate situation.
Dear Mr. Billson, I hope you're okay. Have you had a chance to read over my proposals yet?
Dear Sarah, How are you doing? I hope you've given some thought to the products that I displayed during Wednesday's meeting.
Dear Mrs. Merriweather, I look forward to seeing you again soon. Have you had a moment to think over the things I told you about the other day?
As you can see, all of these emails feature a reminder in some capacity. They are usually quite specific as they relate to a specific instance or situation that should already be made clear between the two emailing parties.
This is a good strategy that helps you to be kind and polite. Sometimes, people genuinely forget to reply to an email, and this reminder is a good way to tell them what you expect from them without being too demanding or picky.
4. Do Not Use “I’m Sorry” Or Similar
The next step is a simple one. You have to believe in yourself. Sometimes, people worry when asking for a reply to previous emails. That’s why common phrases like “I’m sorry,” “sorry to bother you,” or “I apologize” are seen when someone asks for a reply.
The best thing you can do is completely avoid these messages. You want to make sure you’re certain that you expect a response. You need to show the recipient that you are in control and that you want to receive a message from them about what they think of your email.
Now, some people might think this sounds a bit demanding, but it’s actually the opposite.
In most formal cases, removing phrases like “I’m sorry” or “I apologize” is a great way to show self-assurance. This lets the recipient know that you’re going to be okay whether the response to their previous email is good or bad.
It also shows confidence that you expect a reply. If the recipient has actively chosen to ignore your email, this confidence should be all they need to spur themselves on to reply to you.
These examples will demonstrate some sentences you should use and others you shouldn’t:
- Correct: I’m just writing to find out what your response is to my previous email.
- Incorrect: I’m sorry to bother you, but I would like to know how you respond to what I said before.
- Correct: I’m keen to learn what you have to say about the previous matter we discussed.
- Incorrect: I apologize about this email, but I would like to know where you stand on the issue.
- Correct: I hope you’ll be happy to reply to me now that you’ve had a chance to think things over.
- Incorrect: Sorry to bother you again, but I’m still waiting on a reply.
5. Ask For A Reply
Now that we’ve established how to be confident, it’s time to work on your reminder. You want to make sure that you get this right. It should be quick and concise. You don’t need to spend extra time here trying to explain that you expect a reply for this reason or that reason.
Instead, it works best if you just say, “I’m wondering if you’ve had a chance…” or “if you get a moment to respond…”
Anything that quickly gives someone a reason to look back to the previous email is a great way for you to remind them.
Sometimes, people forget to reply to emails. Other times, they simply do not want to because they’re worried about the response they might get if it’s not well-received.
Of course, there’s still no guarantee that someone will want to respond to your email after you remind them again. Still, there’s no harm in trying it. The more polite you can make this part of your email, the more likely someone is to want to reply.
And remember, if the reason someone doesn’t want to respond is that they’re worried about your reaction, try and convey that you don’t mind whether it’s bad news or not. Once someone has a bit more reassurance that you can take the bad news, they’ll be happier to reply.
Here are a few examples that should help you make sense of how the next step looks:
Dear sir, I hope this email finds you well. I'm just wondering if you've had a chance to check my previous email.
Dear madam, I hope you're okay. Have you had a chance to check out my email? If so, how do you respond?
Dear Mr. Harrison, How are you doing? I'm just writing to find out what your reply to my previous email might be.
Dear Mrs. Worries, I hope you're well. I'm checking in to see whether you've got a response for me. I'm keen to find out what you have to say.
We’ve included the calls for responses in boldface. This should help you to make more sense of it.
Using common phrases like “I’m keen” or “I’m eager” also shows that you’re excited to learn what their response is. It is close to sounding desperate, so you’re going to want to make sure you get the tone right before sending these messages.
6. Sign Off Politely
Now is the time to put it all together. The last step comes by signing off politely. You’ll want to make sure you get this right in formal emails. It’s the most important step because it shows you are interested in finding out their reply while maintaining a good rapport.
Common email sign-offs are perfectly acceptable in this case. You can expect to use things like “kind regards” or “yours sincerely” when you want to be polite.
Of course, if you know the recipient well, you might want to add a personal flair to the message. However, any sign-off is acceptable, as long as you’ve addressed the other major points from this article.
Here are some examples that put all the steps together. See if you can pick out each one:
Dear Mr. Harrington, How have you been? I'm just writing regarding the problem we had with our boiler. Have you had a chance to think of a way to fix it? I'm eager to learn about your solution. Kind regards, Matthew Warning
Dear Mrs. Blame, I hope you're having a great weekend. I'm writing to remind you about our discussion from last week. Have you given it any consideration, and do you know what our next steps should be? Thank you very much, Mr. Plank
Dear Harry, I hope you're well. I'm checking in to remind you that you are needed for work later on in the week. Have you had a chance to think about a reply to my previous email about extra working hours? I look forward to hearing from you, Mr. Worker
As you can see, the six steps we’ve covered are all you’re going to need to ensure you get your politeness just right!
Once you’ve made sense of all of our steps, you’ll never have to worry about sending an impolite or insincere reminder email again!
You may also like: 11 Effective And Polite Reminder Email Examples
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.