“Looking forward to your response.” How many times have you ended an important – even urgent – letter with this phrase? You’ve written to a potential donor or you are trying to set up a meeting with a busy government official. Maybe this is your 4th or 5th attempt and yet the person you’ve emailed seems to be actively ignoring you.
You are endlessly “looking forward” and yet your quarry sails blithely on, not bothering to even wave in your direction.
Could it be that phrase itself that’s causing the problem?
Recently, my very smart son Anand gave me a piece of advice. “Mom,” he said. “When you end a letter, you want to leave the recipient feeling that they have to do something. ‘Looking forward to your response‘ is too vague to be a call to action. Try saying this instead: ‘A call at this point would help us sort out the details. Which would work better: 3 o’clock on Wednesday or on Thursday?”
I was skeptical. Why would that important donor or busy official act differently just because I reworded my letter? But I decided to give it a try.
A donor who had promised us a large sum had gone quiet when it came to working out the details. I wrote to her five times but her one and only answer was a hasty and breathless apology and a promise to get back to me by evening. That had been a week earlier.
I tried the new approach: