Here’s a dangerous phrase:
“You didn’t reply to my e-mail.”
Regardless whether that’s true, not only are you making an assumption about what a person did, you’re casting an aspersion upon their character.
Most people see themselves as having character.
Most people hate to be criticized.
By telling them what they didn’t do, you’re inviting them to:
- Show you up by proving you wrong (whether they did or they didn’t)
- Make you look bad by pointing out they never received your original e-mail (even if they did)
- Go into defense mode and take up more of your time with an excuse (if they didn’t)
- Look for all those times you showed up less than perfect (regardless of how valid that approach is)
- Go DEFCON-5 on you next time you make a mistake (turnabout is fair play)
Let’s try a new phrase:
I’m pretty sure you replied to my e-mail, but I can’t seem to find it. Can you please resend it?
If they did reply, they’ll resend it.
If they didn’t reply, you give them room to say “Yep, you’re right, sorry about that. One second while I get that reply to you.”
If they never received your e-mail in the first place, at least you didn’t call them a liar or an incompetent.
You just wanted the reply, amirite?
Let them off the hook.
They’ll remember you let them off the hook when it’s your turn to fall short (and someday you will) – and if they, like most people, do have character, they’ll return the favor.
They’ll also know you’re a decent person – and be more diligent in their dealings with you from now on.
Is that the real goal, after all?