Why isn't Lynn answering my e-mail!?!

You've had this happen, right? You take your time writing an important e-mail to Lynn, pore over the details for hours, maybe even days, and then finally send it. Fostering this relationship with Lynn is so important to you and you feel like this e-mail is really critical to moving things along.


And then?


Nothing. Lynn doesn't write you back.


You become anxious and frustrated at this silence as you head through the stages of grief. You think to yourself: Why hasn't she written me back? Is she mad? Does she not care? Has she chosen to work with someone else? These thoughts occupy your mind and prevent you from getting other work done.


The (most likely) reality? Lynn is busy. Or maybe Lynn stinks at e-mail. In other words, it's probably not about you.


We have an innate desire to attach a judgment to every little behavior that happens in organizational relationships - so-called "micromoves."

Because of this need relationships are constantly being harmed or helped by little behaviors like responding to an e-mail. When Lynn doesn't write back, you begin to question the nature of your relationship, often ignoring evidence from the past that would suggest that you and Lynn are on good terms.


While there is no solution to "curing" this anxiety the best suggestion is to understand Lynn's position. While you may think it unreasonable that Lynn does not respond to e-mails, consider that for Lynn this e-mail may not be a big deal. Or maybe it got buried. Or perhaps Lynn has something going on outside the workplace that is slowing her response time down. Give your anxiety a pause for a few days, maybe even a week, and then stop by Lynn's office, give her a call, or send her another short e-mail apologizing for bugging her but that you just wanted to check in.