The replier (the 'someone' in this question's title) is the most senior and only person who can resolve my matter; I contacted his superior who again referred me to him and told me that he's that department's chief. But the replier really needn't as long as he does (e.g. 1 week) to reply. My attempt #1 was polite:

  1. I often do not hear from you within two business days and worry about the slow progress, and hope to expedite our communication please.

His response does not suggest any change in speed:

  1. Please be assured that I always try to reply as soon as possible, but I am often out of the office, or need to consult other staff who may be away too.

How do I politely intensify my request to get a quicker response?

  • Is it possible to get his corporate mobile number?
    – mcalex
    Sep 6, 2017 at 5:10
  • 1
    What has made you determine that this person doesn't need as long as he is taking? Do you not believe he legitimately has to wait on the responses of others? Do you want a response simply acknowledging that he got your request and it's being worked on?
    – threetimes
    Sep 6, 2017 at 8:14
  • 1
    This might be your biggest concern, that does however not mean that you are his biggest concern.
    – Robzor
    Sep 7, 2017 at 8:20
  • Is it absolutely necessary to get a faster response, or can you work around it for a time? Can you plan your work better so you have more time you wait for an answer? Is it feasible to talk to them in person or call them on the phone?
    – Kat
    Sep 8, 2017 at 0:29
  • What is your relationship with this person? Are you a client, co-worker, contractor, student, customer, supplier, constituent, or? Also, what are your priorities for this interaction? That is, if you can get a quick response but at the expense of this person hating your guts, is that OK? Or do you need to work with them again in the future? Etc.
    – 1006a
    Jan 22, 2018 at 5:20

4 Answers 4


There are two ways to go here, in my view.

1. Be polite, providing your deadline, and wait.

Example text:

Where can I find the support document that explains X? I've been referred to you by (supervisor name) for this information, which I need by (deadline date, or the longest you are willing to wait). If you can't help me within this timeframe, is there someone you can refer me to who can?

Usually, with this approach, I will wait two-thirds of the time until a deadline for an answer. If I don't get one, then I might resend the email with " any update? ", often CC'ing the person who referred me. This shows the supervisor you have tried, and the timeframes involved, and your attempt to wait patiently.

2. Be polite, and keep asking persistently (every day or two) until you get an answer.

This also shows the receiver that your question is important on a critical path. CC'ing the supervisor on the third request may show that this is important and needs to be resolved. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, as they say.

Some people need a reminder or two to realize the question isn't just for basic info, and is for a specific purpose. Giving people a timeframe for when you need an answer also helps them help you in a timely way.


I don't think there's much for you to do here.

You already contacted them about this, raised your concerns regarding the delays in their responses.

They responded back saying they're doing the best they can considering their busy schedules.

Since this person is your senior, I would consider it rude to push him to be more responsive towards your queries.

You will have to look for someone else to help you, or other ways if there's no other person.

Even if they're not your senior, I don't think you can force them to speed things up, unless you employed them, or you are the manager.

If you're the manager, you could try and streamline their work to fit your requirements. Minimise their need to be away from office or something to prioritise your requests.

  • To clarify: the replier is not my senior.
    – user2423
    Sep 6, 2017 at 3:27
  • @Canada-Area51Proposal Even if they're not your senior, I don't think you can force them to speed things up, unless you employed them.
    – NVZ
    Sep 6, 2017 at 3:28

There are really three approaches I have used professionally to get someone to do what I need who isn't my subordinate (and sometimes then too). Here I am speaking of people I needed to work with in order to complete my tasks. The three things are finesse (I call it shmoozing), assertiveness, and currency.

Essentially finesse or shmoozing is simply getting someone else to like you enough to want to help you, and make your needs a priority over other people asking for things. I would do this in lots of ways and it's more of an art than science since you have to know what will work with that person. I am trained to do massage therapy. I would often offer to give someone a 10 min chair massage in their office while they looked over my proposal, discussed this or that with me, etc. I shouldn't have to do that to get what I need done, but it was highly effective and it got me a lot of increase in return time on requests. For others I might bring them in cookies here and there or for someone else a gift certificate for a pedicure. I considered these "the cost of doing business", and by being able to do more work in shorter time, I was also able to increase my income, such that it more than compensated for any money I spent shmoozing.

Assertive is pretty self explanatory. You make sure you aren't being overly passive and accepting less than the person is capable of, while maintaining you haven't gone so far that it's now feeling aggressive and hostile to the person you wish to work with more effectively. People respect assertive. They don't respect passive and they might even attempt to undermine aggressive as a way to pay you back if they feel you have stepped on their toes.

And currency. That is somewhat like finesse, but to me the difference is it should be more professionally aimed. Does Andrea need Susan to get her the reports faster? You can work to get in better with Susan so that she gets the reports in faster to Andrea. You can then let Andrea know that you cashed in some favors to get her reports expedited. If you have influence on whether or not Andrea gets to work on project she wants, use that too and make sure to tell her that you are "putting in a good word for her about what she has done working with you". I also had a personal assistant and I didn't always actually have to have her. So if I wanted favor with someone, I may loan her out to help them catch up on something, or the like. It really will obviously vary based on the overall work environment, rules, etc and knowing where you have any wiggle room to be able to ethically gain favor with someone.

In the end too, it is always best if there is any way you can frame it for "Andrea" why doing whatever you need done is also good for her, not just you. For instance, I worked with engineers who wanted to be made project manager when we landed a job. So I might tell Andrea that I really need those numbers on materials ASAP because I think we have a great shot at landing this and I would love to recommend her as PM when we do, but the sooner we can get those numbers, the better chance we have of getting that job at all. It's tight as it is, and we need to leave enough time to negotiate and make any changes they may need before the close date on bids. Then if it was a good enough job, I'd give her a chair massage, a pedicure gift certificate, get Susan to hurry those reports, lend her my assistant, be assertive AND every other trick I had. ;)


Offer options/solutions, even if partial or incomplete, for your overworked expert to chose from, even if this is "not your job" or you are not technically qualified to comment. Base these on input you've previously received from said expert or other qualified source with due consideration to modification for current circumstances.

This shows you have put effort into solving the problem which reinforces its importance. It can be exhausting to be on the receiving end of endless requests that require no apparent energy expenditure on the part of the asker (besides typing the email and its two dozen follow ups). Be the outlier who tries a bit harder.

The other reason this can work is that it offers the opportunity for the expert to correct or "fix" your work, which can be irresistible to them. It makes the exchange collaborative and less draining. Even if you are laughably terrible at first, provided you are paying attention, you will get better.

Find a funny, kind and genuine way to remind your expert that you're all in this together.

Things that might not work: contacting via multiple modes, harping on its importance/timeliness unless the word "chief" is in your title, cc'ing superiors who are even more over-extended. All worth a try but if it didn't help the first ten attempts, it's not likely to make a difference going forward.

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