I send a lot of emails - some important and some not. I often get replies for the important ones promptly, but the less important ones can often be forgotten.

I understand this - I'm sure I do the same sometimes.

This specific case is me emailing a local politician. We spoke at an open village meeting and I emailed to ask for clarification about something he said. He hasn't replied.

When I need an answer, how should I follow up? I will sometimes forward the email I sent onto them again, with a short message like "Hi, did you get a chance to take a look at this" - and then it's obvious I've been waiting. Is this too passive aggressive?


4 Answers 4


I don't think it's passive aggressive at all.

Just a friendly reminder such as

"Hey, when you get a chance, can you take a look at this? Not sure if you saw this or not. Thanks."

Or however your writing style goes, that is appropriate for the situation.

Anything that isn't judgmental. Make sure that you include some inkling about what the original thing is about.

Generally speaking, do it for when you need a response. If it's something like, "hey, do you want to do something for lunch?" sending another email may not be appropriate. If it's something urgent, or someone that you need to make sure they see right away, then it's time to actually interact with them, such as sending them a phone call (e.g. a work issue).


It might depend on the recipient.

For a friend or family member your option is very probably good.

For an acquaintance maybe "just wanted to bump this to your attention" or "just a friendly reminder" or something similar.

For a senior colleague something more formal could be good like "I'm sure you're busy but I would really appreciate your input on this."

If possible, use a group message so nobody feels targeted. "Hey everyone, looking forward to this Saturday, let me know your plans if you didn't already!"


Be up front about why you are writing again.

If it's worth following up on, then it's worth stating why you are following up. If you say "Did you get a chance...", you are leaving room for them to have a negative thought as to why you are writing again.

But if you put the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF), they will know exactly why it is important for you to follow up. They should then write back, even if it is just to say they have no input. And since they know, they should not have any ill feelings.


I believe that the answers so far are very much on track. But, to reflect on you original posting, there seems two points to consider. The first of these is your general point of reminding someone of an "overlooked" (for less judgmental sounding than "ignored") email. In general a gentle query as you have suggested ("Did you get a chance to take a look at this?") seems appropriate in most cases, as it does not suggest that you are suggesting that they are personally slighting you, but rather that they are busy. The second point here relates to your particular example of a local official. Here it is helpful to make it clear you realise they have a lot to deal with, but you would really appreciate their feedback. Make it clear what clarification you are seeking, and why this is important to you. This limits the time and scope of their response (showing you appreciate their time constraints) and as a politician such clarifications, when the intention and importance is understood, will usually try to be helpful in order to keep a constituent happy.

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