Guide

3 steps to get your co-workers to stop ignoring your emails

We've all been there. You spend a big chunk of time and effort crafting the perfect email and then … crickets. No one ever responds to your thoughtfully written (and important!) email.

So how do you avoid this sticky situation?

How to craft an email that people will read.
Ezra Bailey | Getty Images

Make your subject action packed

First up? It's time to hit a home run with the subject, which is often the only part of an email people read before choosing whether to click "delete" or "reply."

Start with a standard formula for the subject that gets straight to the point, said Heidi Schultz, a professor of management and corporate communication at UNC-Chapel Hill's Kenan-Flagler Business School.

Schultz prefaces her formula with a key action tidbit like "FYI," "action required" or "response requested." Next comes the formula, which is "modifier, plus noun, plus action word."

For example, a good subject would be "FYI: Brainstorm meeting scheduled." This helps the receiver sort your email into the correct folder.

As for those all-caps headlines, "don't do it," Schultz said, adding they're difficult to read and slow recipients down.

Jacqueline Whitmore, an etiquette expert and author who specializes in business communication, says including names in an email often proves successful. For example, "Hello, Barry, it's Jacqueline Whitmore," would help elicit a reply.

Keep it snappy

The shorter the body of the email, the better, experts say.

Start with a salutation to avoid sounding like you're shouting orders, suggests Peggy Duncan, a personal productivity coach.

Then, craft a concise email that is well written and gets to the point quickly. Make sure to give specific dates and times for deadlines.

"Don't say ASAP," Duncan said. "ASAP is not a time."

Highlight key points

Bullet points help drive home important points, Whitmore said. Bolding key words helps too.

"Anything you want them to see or answer—it's best if it's a bullet point," Whitmore said.

Following the email, experts recommend signing an email with some close of close like "Best Regards, Katie" to signal the end of the message. Always include an email signature in the initial message in case that person needs to respond directly to you via phone.

And if you still hear crickets after sending an email, it's time for plan B.

In that case, Schultz following up the old fashioned way: dialing that person's number.

One other tip to rock your next email?

"Never put anything in an email message that you don't want your mom to see in a billboard," she said.