The problem explained.
I have only been in Spain for a few months but I am noticing a worrying trend in email communication. It seems that many people in Spain, including in business, believe that it is not necessary or important to respond to an email in a reasonable amount of time; or not even important to respond at all. However, in many English speaking countries, this is viewed as being rude and impolite. In terms of business, this means you are not communicating properly with your clients or partners, and this could cost your company dearly.
Replying to emails.
If you do not reply to an email in a reasonable amount of time, the sender will think at least one of these 4 things.
Any of these 4 things will cause stress and/or concern to the sender. They will be wondering why you have not responded, as it is considered normal to respond to an email in a reasonable amount of time.
What is a reasonable amount of time to respond?
In my experience, a reasonable amount of time to respond to a business email is within 24 hours. The simple part is that you don’t even have to completely answer the inquiry. You can just say, “Thanks for your email, I will look into the request and get back to you in the next few hours/days/weeks”. By doing this, the sender can be confident that the connection has been made and their communication is being considered. If you are out of the office for a few days, create an "out-of-office" auto-reply.
The risk of not responding.
If you continue to NOT respond to emails within a reasonable amount of time, you are at risk of insulting the sender. Do you want to take that risk? This has happened to me on several occasions, when I have been requesting information or negotiating with Spanish language schools and companies. I have even sent more emails to the same person asking for a response to my original email. And they still didn't reply. At that point, I decided to never contact this person again or recommend their company to anybody else.
Is the Espanol email culture changing?
One of my students works for a major company here in Spain with thousands of employees. This student has told me that the lack of response to emails in Spain is normal but needs to change if Spanish businesses want to progress internationally. This student deals with many international companies and has recognized the importance of a timely response. In this student’s experience, the email problem is improving slowly. Do you agree?
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