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First, some background knowledge: I'm currently building a video game for a client, mostly for a bit of practice. My "client" isn't paying for the game to be made, since I had just started programming when I promised to make the game.

Anyway, I emailed her around two weeks ago, with an urgent question about the game. Until she replies, I cannot continue with the game. I have asked her twice since then to reply.

I feel that if I ask her to reply for a third time, I will seem pushy and rude. I pass by her occasionally, just long enough to say hi (So I couldn't just ask her in person). There is no other way to get her answer. So my question: how should I ask her to check her email without sounding too pushy?

  • Hi Redwolf, welcome to IPS. I have asked her twice since then -> by email? Or have you tried text? No way to ask "as a farewell last note" when you pass by? – OldPadawan Jan 29 at 7:40
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You are not getting paid. You are not getting paid when you can't work, but you don't get paid at all. She isn't a client, you are doing her a favour. It costs her nothing. And it will take you a while, but you will find out that people value things (like favours) according to how much it cost them. Your favours cost her nothing, so she doesn't value them at all.

If she employed you at a daily rate, she would answer immediately, because every delay costs her money. Since she doesn't pay, you are zero in her priorities. That's why she doesn't feel a need to reply.

You actually need to be pushy to get a reply from her. If you don't like being pushy, do it as a practice exercise. So if you walk past her, don't walk past her. Stop her, tell her that you sent two emails without reply, and if she wants you to continue doing the work for her. And of course, send her a third email, saying what you need, and if you don't get an answer within a day, you quit.

You need to raise the cost to her. That increases your value. As long as it doesn't cost her (and receiving an unfriendly email or being stopped is a cost), she doesn't value you.

  • 1
    Alternately, rather than push for a response, it can be a solution to simply not wait around for the answer. OP doesn't really stand to lose anything even if the project dies a quiet death (he's earning nothing), so he can simply treat the project with the same level of priority as the client does. And if OP wants to do it for practice's sake, then they don't particularly need a client to tell them what to practice, so they wouldn't be stuck because of a lack of information. – Flater Feb 1 at 10:44
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As you work for free (for her) in order to improve your knowledge and skills, she should really value your work, because it saves her a lot of money. I would. But we (you and us) don't know if she does.

If she doesn't undertsand how big a value your work adds to her business, you're left with 2 choices :

  1. stand-by / let it go, and (maybe) wait for her to answer. At that time, if you're still in the mood of ending the job, you can carry on, or find any good excuse to stop working for/with her.

  2. end the job just to get another valuable line on your resume. But, until you get an answer, you're stuck in a dead-end and no possible U-turn.

At the moment, it seems like you're still in between the two options, and want to give it another (last?) try. So, if it was me dealing with this, I'd rather check a couple of things first because I decide which action to take. Because, working with an online booking, with confirmation via email/text, I often see that people:

  • didn't get the confirmation/reminder on time or at all (happened roughly like 2% to 5% of the time).
  • didn't see they had received it:
    1. -> they don't check their emails because they don't use it / don't care at all (!)
    2. -> they check their emails, but never the trash/spam folders (and it happened many many many times that the "proof" was in there...)

I see only one way to check, and get a better idea about wether she cares or not about your efforts and the time you put in, and you'll have to nudge anyway.

Email isn't an option, so you're left with "in person" or "text". The latter has a valuable advantage over the former, it helps you keep track and prove later, if needed, and if she doesn't answer, than you cared, and you were professional. In either case, don't blame her, be professional, straight to the point, and nice. Let her know that, without any answer/help/support from her, you won't be able to finish the job.

I would phrase it like this, with some slight adjustments, wether you decide to text or tell her directly:

Hi Alice, I sent you an email with important update. Without any feedback from you, I'm stuck, and can't move forward. Could you please let me know, when you get a chance to check it out? Thanks.

She may tell you she didn't receive the email, or just missed it and apologize, or just didn't have time... But you'll have done what was necessary. And no answer from her IS an answer anyway ;)

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