You get “urgent” email requests all the time – yet how often they are top priority for you?
Chances are, not all that often.
So how do you respond tactfully and manage others’ expectations, without stopping what you’re working on?
Try these three suggestions:
1. ‘How urgent?’
Reply back: “When is action needed?” Urgent doesn’t always mean immediate.
The sender may simply be anxious about a problem or project. He or she may also figure you’ll drop everything and handle the request now if it has the word urgent or an exclamation point in the message.
2. Give a timeline
The sender may only need a plan of action, not the resolution, right away.
Write back something like: “I can give you an answer by lunch tomorrow. Will that work?”
3. Get feedback
The sender’s request may require that you postpone some initiatives that you’re both working on together. (Typically it’s your superiors who do this!)
So ask him or her how the work should be prioritized. If you’re working on a critical project, that may be be priority No. 1.