The Importance of Replying Back to a Message

(Also published on www.creativeunity.ca)

Good communication develops healthy relationships whether it’s a personal connection or in business. The way people communicate can tell you a lot about them. You can sense the nature of the conversation, the intent and on a few occasions the point of disconnection.

In this article, I will be talking about my experiences with poor communication in Business. It is common that many people don’t know the importance of replying back and here’s my take on it.

Have you ever been in a situation where the conversation suddenly ended?

In today’s world, most of our communication is performed using technology, usually in the form of text messages, emails and social media. I’ve been in situations where my text conversations went cold or were left dead with no reply. Here are a few examples of what I mean.


1. Personal

Friend: Hey, are you around to chat?
Me: Yes of course. What’s up?
Friend: Remember that time I submitted my assignment last week?
Me: Yes. Was there an issue?
Friend: (No reply)
Me:?
Friend: (No reply)
Two days later…
Me: Are you still there?

Conversation ended


2. Business

A message to the Accounting Manager

Me: Hi, (Accountants name).

I have not yet received my pay from last week. Could you look into this for me?

Accountant: OK

*4 days passed and no follow-up to confirm if the issue was corrected.


3. Business

A message to the Social Media Manager
Me: I’ve noticed that there was an error in my last article. Are you able to delete this post for me as soon as you can?
Thank you.

*Message status: Seen
3 Follow up emails were sent and it’s been four months since the first initial email. While still waiting for a reply, the Social Media Manager was commenting and posting on social media. It’s clear that they are available to communicate with others.


Is a Reply be Necessary?

Imagine greeting a colleague in person and they just looked at you and didn’t say a word. That is the same thing as messaging someone and receiving no reply. You can call this a cold shoulder, avoidance, neglect, poor communication etiquette and unprofessional. Whatever the reason is for not replying back, it creates a negative impact. Closing a conversation the right way helps build stronger relationships and open communication in a work environment.

Ways to Acknowledge Messages.

I believe that you can reply to any message. The way you respond can also affect your next conversation with that person.  The basic guidelines that I use to answer a message consist of a few factors. So here are my suggestions to acknowledge messages properly.

Reply to Your Sender in a Timely Fashion

Timing is everything when it comes to communication. Nobody likes waiting an unreasonable amount of time for a reply especially in business. Be considerate of other peoples time and if you are late in replying back, address that at the beginning of your message. Customer service levels may be affected if your timing is poor when responding to a customers inquiry.

Avoid Using One-Liners

A one-liner is a reply using “Thanks,” and “Oh, OK.” These are considered cold replies and they do not advance the conversation in any way. When you do not need a reply, just add a “No Reply Necessary” indicator in the subject of your email or at the end of your message. It is better to reply with a full sentence highlighting the contents of the sender’s message. Be mindful and keep your reply on point and simple.

When a colleague says, “Hi, how is your vacation so far? I would like to touch base with you as soon as you get back or when you’re free.” Don’t give the full details of your vacation and express your feelings. Simply reply with, “ My vacation is (relaxing, excellent, etc.). I will contact you as soon as I get back to arrange a time to see you.

Who is Communicating With You?

The types of messages you will receive are usually casual/general, professional or personal. It is essential that you find the correct one that matches your sender. This will set the tone for your conversation and give a proper impression on who you are.

Initiating the First Message as a Manager

Managers oversee the operations of a company and play an integral role in creating and maintaining the foundation of the work culture. When communicating with employees through electronic messages, it is vital that the manager demonstrates a healthy back and forth conversation. The same etiquette should apply when replying back to employees. Failure to do so damages the work culture in many ways.

Managers that neglect to respond in a timely fashion, give one-liners or don’t reply at all create a negative impression of themselves. In many cases, this is the cause of any disconnects in the workplace and culture. Employees become less motivated and for some, it gives a reason to leave the company. Many business owners overlook this issue and need to reevaluate if their Manager is fit for the position. Investing in healthy two-way communication skills is the key to motivating a productive community of workers.

Final thoughts.

There are many obvious reasons to why you should reply to a message. It comes off rude not to acknowledge a message as seen in my examples above, especially in a business setting. Being a leader of a company takes more work than you think. Putting a label of CEO or Manager next to your name does not automatically make you fit for the position. You need to provide the team with the same tools that you’ve used to become successful. There is no room for ego’s or ignorance in a management role and “listening” is usually your best ally in repairing damaged work relationships. People deserve to be treated fairly and healthy communication is needed to get the gears of success moving.