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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

How do I get my boss to respond to texts?

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

The other day I texted my very busy boss, “I have a couple of questions for you.” He texted back, “Give me five minutes.” Five minutes came and went, and he never got back to me. I needed him to answer my questions so I could move forward on a project, but I thought it would have been too aggressive and rude to text, “Did you forget about me?”

Do you think he was deliberately avoiding me? Any ideas about what I could have done differently?

Thanks, Texting Guy

Dear TG,

Here are three points I want to make about your situation, and I hope you’ll follow through on my recommendations in the future:

  1. Ask the full questions in an email. If you need an answer from your very busy boss to help you move forward on a project that I presume he has an interest in, you should directly ask your questions in an email or text rather than just ask if he has a minute to answer.  (Caveat: save anything personal for a face-to-face chat, not an email.) I would have sent him an email with a subject line saying: “2 questions on Squidgie case- deadline 4 PM,” and then enumerate your questions.  If there is a real deadline quickly explain why.

  2. Do whatever you need to do to get the answers. The fact that he didn’t get back to you in five minutes most likely means that he got distracted by something and simply forgot to get back to you. I guarantee he wasn’t playing mind games. You will not be perceived as aggressive, pushy, or nasty AT ALL if you texted: “I’m free till 3; please let me know a good time to chat about Squidgie. The doc needs to be filed by 4.” Also even though you like to text you could a) walk to his office and poke your head in, b) ask his admin where to find him, c) scream his name aloud until he answers. Don’t do the last one. 

  3. Always be assertive and polite. Don’t spend your time worrying if you think you’re being aggressive or passive. Throw those words and that whole spectrum in the trash. Be direct and assertive about what you need and why, and be polite and gracious as you do.

Good luck, SED

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