“Send” Does Not Mean “Received”

August 11, 2018
Mary Jane Copps

We have very high expectations of email … and text. We believe that once we hit “send”, our words have been received, read and acted upon. But this is not always true. To create excellent communication – and avoid some uncomfortable situations – we need to consider doubling up on our most important messages.

What does doubling up involve? And what kind of problems might be avoided with this approach?

There are so many ways to communicate today – phone, email, text, direct messages through social … and more. On one hand, this makes us more available to our customers and allows us to reach a worldwide market; on the other, it creates communication challenges. The way we choose to communicate may not be ideal for our audience.

For example, the location of a workshop I was scheduled to deliver was changed due to delayed building renovations. The client sent me an email. I was travelling at the time, had my email on autoresponder and was doing my best to take a break from technology. I read the message 24 hours before the workshop. It felt like a close call to me; like I might have easily ended up in the wrong place at the right time.

On the day of the workshop, at the new location, we all discovered that the person who accepted the room reservation – by email – was on vacation and no one else knew anything about online bookings. In fact, the facility was full and there was no space available for us that day. Yikes! It was too late to make other arrangements and the event had to be rescheduled.

And on a different note, a social media expert I’ve heard good things about recently emailed me. He indicated our existing connection on LinkedIn, was complimentary about my work and provided me with some interesting information, but … the message went directly to my spam folder.

What to do?

  1. When sending time-sensitive information by email, include a phrase such as: “Please confirm receipt of this message“. This way, if you don’t hear from the person, you know you have to follow up in another way – phone call, text, etc.
  2. Follow up email reservations or website bookings with a phone call or text message. Make sure you have the name of a person to contact and, perhaps, if it is a holiday season, ask for the name of a colleague as well. Double up with your own confirmation email to multiple contacts.
  3. Combine phone and email/text. While not everyone checks their voicemail these days, many still do. Your voicemail message can say: “Letting you know that the location of our workshop has changed. All the details are in an email sent to you today.
  4.  Acknowledge that spam filters work. If you don’t have an ongoing relationship with someone, and you send them an email, they may never see it. I’m not sure what other people do, but I might open my spam folder once a month. If it goes to spam, I believe it holds no value. When you really want to reach someone, pick up the phone. Leave them a message expressing your interest in their work and then say: “I’ve sent you a few details by email in case our expertise is of value to you.

What do you think? What are some of the ways you are making sure “send” means “received”?



Where’s The Phone Lady?

August 14 – Phone Skills for Job Search and On The Job, Older Wiser Labourforce  (OWL), Halifax, NS

September 4 – Essential Communication Skills to Reach and Meet More Clients, TD Canada Trust, Toronto, ON

September 8 – Communication Skills that Build Strong Relationships, Highland Hearing, Pictou, NS

September 11 – Phone Skills for Entrepreneurs, CBDC Hants-Kings, Kentville, NS

September 28 – Talking to Your Customers, CEED, Halifax, NS




  1. Heather says:

    I would also like to add when booking a vehicle take screen shots you keep on your phone. We booked a car for LAX and when we arrived they said it was booked for another location, and if we wanted a car from that particular location it would be an extra $150 US. The email confirmation stated we had our reservation and the cost, but did not include the pickup location. If we had of had screen shots we could have proven our point and avoided the extra charge we ended up paying.

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