Things may not be as they seem

Things may not be as they seem

I had an interesting conversation with a lady member recently who was bemoaning the fact that she’d contacted various members and not heard back from them. When I questioned her more, it transpired that all her communication had been by email. I asked her if she was 100% certain that the member she’d written to had actually received her email? Of course, she didn’t know. This is because Things may not be as they seem. 

What many people, outside of businesses that send masses of emails out (like we do), don’t know is that email ‘deliverability’ is pretty poor.

Now I know personal email is different to business email – but you may be interested to know that business email has an open rate of less than 30%. That means that for every 10 people I email, only 3 will actually open and read the email. Personal email is different, but it does suffer some of the same problems as business email.

Let me list a few of the issues that beset email in general.

  1. You may have got the email address wrong. Even one wrong letter or dot in the wrong place, means your email won’t arrive. You won’t know that it hasn’t arrived, but it won’t have. Its hugely easy to get an email address wrong. It happens all the time even when we think we’ve checked we’ve put the right address in.


  1. Your email may arrive, but it may go to a spam or advertising inbox. Even if it does end up in the right inbox, it may be in an inbox that receives 100s of emails a day. You only have to sign up to a couple of things (like charities for example, or discount travel suggestions) to find your personal inbox is filled up with all sorts of emails that are not from friends. Personally, I really struggle with this – and weeding out the emails from friends and family is I suspect I miss a lot of personal emails – and I generally advise people not to use this method to reach me.


  1. Even if I do see your email, I may not respond straight away. I may have the good intention to respond, but I can’t there and then. When I next come back to my email, the email from you may be way way down the page – and chances are I won’t scroll back down to see it. Your email has arrived but despite my good intentions to reply, it just didn’t happen. By the time I get back to my inbox, life has overtaken me and I’ve forgotten about your email. This is especially likely to happen if I don’t know you – or you’ve made only a very brief introduction of yourself.

So, when you think someone is being rude by not responding to your email, think again. It is quite possible your email may not have arrived at all, or rather than being rude, they simply didn’t get the chance to respond.

Compare this method of communication with a physical letter sent by post or a WhatsApp message.

We are lucky in this country to have a very good postal service. Very few letters get lost. If you’re unsure of deliverability you can always send a letter by ‘recorded delivery’ then you can have the certainty you need.

If you use WhatsApp you can literally see if someone has a) received your text and b) opened it. 

Now you can be confident using either of these two methods of communication that if someone hasn’t replied (within say 2 – 3 weeks) then they probably aren’t going to (and yes, we’d agree that’s pretty rude).

Getting in touch with someone you don’t know is fraught with difficulties – and it’s easy to jump to conclusions that they are rude in not getting back to you, or clearly have decided they don’t ‘like’ you. But this is a conclusion that you have jumped to – and it’s definitely not a proven conclusion by any means.

Until you’ve clearly heard back from another member, and they’ve said “Thanks but no thanks” you absolutely can’t determine what they think about your introduction to them, or what they think about you.

So please be careful of the assumptions you make about other members particularly when you are in the early stages of communication with them. Things are not always as they seem or as you suppose. And if you don’t realise this you can make some very wrong assumptions and decisions about people.