Have you recently sent an important email to someone and are currently waiting for a response back?

Maybe it’s taken longer than three days for them to respond. Maybe five days, maybe an entire week. You were probably just trying to meet up for a coffee, set up a phone call, or get your foot in the door for some sort of collaboration.

Why would someone be waiting to respond to you? Is it because they were out of town when they got it?

Maybe they opened up a new tab for the email and closed it without remembering.

Maybe they sent it off to a colleague for them to look at and they just haven’t had the time yet.

I hate to be the one to break this to you, but the person you emailed has already sent you a response.

That response is: NO.

Don’t try to find their email in your inbox or your spam folder; it doesn’t actually exist.

By not responding to your email, that person has responded to your email: NAH.

Here are the 10 emotional stages of email rejection:

  1. Excitement – I just sent an important email to an important person, holy cow! The possibilities are endless.
  2. Anxiety – Nothing yet. Time to refresh my email inbox. Again. And again. And again. Okay maybe just one more time.
  3. Curiosity – Hmm, I wonder why this person hasn’t responded to my email yet…
  4. Investigation – Maybe I should check to see if their response went into my spam folder…
  5. Confusion – Was my email written well enough? Maybe it was too short? Too long? Seriously, what’s taking so long?
  6. Sadness – Now my feelings are hurt. I went out of my way to email this person and they don’t even care.
  7. AngerWhat an unprofessional jerk! If they wanted to say no, why didn’t they just say NO? Whatever, it’s their loss.
  8. Acceptance – Okay, they’re obviously not going to email me back. I’m totally over this.
  9. Lack of Acceptance – Well, maybe they were just a little busy at the moment and haven’t had a chance to actually see it. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to send another one…
  10. Repeat – Return to Step 2, and start the process all over again.

Most of us have probably been on both sides of silent email rejection. I certainly have, and I still don’t know how I feel about it. One on hand, I wish people would be courteous to their fellow man and dignify them with a response, no matter the subject.

But on the other hand, I totally understand where some of these no-responders are coming from. If they respond to every email they get, then it’s just going to lead to another email, and the vicious cycle continues. It’s not that they don’t respect the person who emailed them (you), it’s just that they also need to respect their own time and priorities.

I’ve learned to accept “NO” responses and just move on. Have you?

How can you avoid the pain of a no-response rejection?

If you’d rather not experience no-response rejections for every email you send, then be sure to send an email that offers something that clearly benefits them and only them. It’s about providing genuinely valuable information and connections for others before you ever ask something from them. Be an authentic and useful connection. Don’t give them a reason to say “NO” (by not saying “NO”).

Once you place others ahead of yourself, they will eventually email you back. When they finally do email you, make sure you don’t respond.

That’ll show ‘em.


Updated from this original post on