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I have sent someone an e-mail containing information (link, document, etc.), but they ask for it again as though I had never sent it to them.

Is it unprofessional to forward them the original e-mail with the information and their address in the To: or Cc: field?

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    Not only is it NOT unprofessional, it is often the only correct way to do it. To do otherwise complicates the timeline and the last thing you want is any doubt over whether or not you sent the original message. – Permas Mar 5 '13 at 6:12
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    Did this happen just once, or is it a regular thing with this person? The answer should have a big impact on how you react. – Blrfl Mar 5 '13 at 11:37
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No, it is not unprofessional to forward the original e-mail.

Make sure that your original e-mail contains all the information they requested. In the forwarding e-mail, you write something like,

Dear Mr./Ms. name,

I am forwarding the e-mail I sent to you earlier in case it did not reach you in the first place.

Thanks.

Your name

The forwarding e-mail should then include the time/date of the original e-mail and the original e-mail which has all the information they requested.

  • Comments removed. Please use The Workplace Chat (rather than comments) for extended discussion. – yoozer8 Mar 5 '13 at 21:11
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In General

Yes. If you've sent it once, it's better to send complete with the header information, and date and time it was sent (just forward the original e-mail to them, that will contain everything).

However...

Lots of people are prickly, and the above approach may insult them. There are many times when it's better to resend it without forwarding the whole e-mail for the sake of civility and/or saving yourself a headache.

Some rules of thumb:

  • Do forward it if it is time-sensitive information (so you don't get blamed for delays)
  • Do forward it it's a coworker who you're training and shouldn't lose the e-mail in the first place
  • Don't forward it if it's an estimate to a client and their boss was CC'd (making someone with purchasing power look bad to his boss is bad form)
  • Don't forward it if it's your boss and other coworkers are CC'd (your boss doesn't want to look bad in front of the other coworkers)

Disclaimer

These are all just rules of thumb. Use good judgment. Generally speaking, the idea is that you want to protect yourself first, but not protect yourself from marginal risk at the expense of making the other person look bad, especially in front of their boss/coworkers.

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    Lots of people are prickly, and the above approach may insult them. They have no right to be insulted because they most likely didn't even bother searching for the original email in the first place, yet they expect you to write them a brand new email as if the first one never happened? The implication of feeling prickly about this is the most condescending, arrogant and hypocritical mindset imaginable! The receiver implicitly communicates that his time is vastly more important than yours, so you must cater to my requests. – maple_shaft Mar 5 '13 at 14:13
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    Yes, some people in business are unreasonable. And lazy. And a pain to deal with. And many of those people are customers or bosses who are best served not irking when not required. Right or not, they will be insulted, and you will have to deal with the consequences. My suggestion is to avoid the hassle. Your mileage may vary. – jmac Mar 5 '13 at 15:05
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    @maple_shaft Maybe their time is more important than yours? If a VP of an MNC asks a tech lead for some info in a mailing list, the tech lead should send it rather than forwarding them a link to some documentation or a previous email. The person in question might be juggling all sorts of things with very tight timelines and might just need a hand. – MrFox Mar 5 '13 at 19:46
  • @MrFox If their time is more important, then sending a reminder that they already had it will save them more of their important time, the next time. Sending an email isn't exactly a no-time task, nor is waiting on the reply. – Edwin Buck Mar 5 '13 at 21:34
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    @maple_shaft in business, especially when dealing with clients, you don't always have the luxury of being able to piss people off with no repercussions. – Tom Marthenal Mar 5 '13 at 22:13

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