How To Write Follow-up Email Messages?

It’s Tuesday and you’ve been not-so-patiently waiting since Monday for a response you expected last Friday. What do you do?

Follow-up email messages can stop the best of us in our tracks – and perhaps that’s a good thing. When we write follow-up email we often give careful thought to how we sound and what we say. Translation: most of the time we reread our follow-up email before we send them… something we should do to every email draft before we send.

The careful attention we give our follow-up email is justified. The way our email is interpreted can create retaliatory friction long into our future causing passive aggressive – and not so passive aggressive delays or lack of cooperation for days, weeks or years later. Of course not following up isn’t a good option either.

Fortunately there are other options. Here are two common mistakes when writing follow-up email PLUS options for what you could write. Please note: Standard email etiquette greetings and signature lines should be added to these messages.

Example 1.

Not Great: “Based on our agreement I was expecting your feedback on Friday. It’s now Tuesday; can you confirm I’ll have it by mid-day today?” By the way – you CC’d their boss and your boss.

Much Better: “This is a quick follow-up requesting your feedback regarding XYZ project. I was expecting it last Friday; please let me know if I can get it by mid-day today. I will be submitting my findings tomorrow morning and would enjoy your contribution.” By the way – you didn’t CC anyone.pointed email

Example 2.

Not Great: “I’d really appreciate any response to the 2 questions I asked last Thursday. I need them today – otherwise don’t bother.”

Much Better: “I’m following-up to see if I can get your comments today on the 2 questions I asked last Thursday about new fiberglass molding process? I have to submit my findings tomorrow at noon.”

Whenever you write you want to try to avoid sounding abrupt or accusatory. If the person may feel like you are pointing a finger at them… rewrite. The wise old idiom ‘You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar’ holds true here.


Always try to stay upbeat and positive. Let them know your timelines is a gentle way of framing up your urgency. Also, I recommend never saying ‘I know you are busy but…’ In almost every case (I cannot think of one where it doesn’t), it sounds insincere.

Happy communicating.

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About Bruce Mayhew
Bruce Mayhew is a Leadership Coach, Keynote Speaker and Corporate Trainer who builds strong client and co-worker relationships that give clients a competitive advantage. Our training and development programs include: ■Generational Differences ■Effective Business Email Writing ■Email Etiquette ■Phone Etiquette ■Behaviour Event Interviewing (BEI) ■Mindfulness ■Using Linkedin to Build Client Relationships ■Objective Setting Made Easy

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