I routinely have to deal with a situation when some of my colleagues do not reply to my chat messages or emails. I can't just ignore them, because I get tasks from them and occasionally need to consult with them.

How should I deal with this situation?

  • 2
    Which problem are you actually asking about, them having a big attitude or them not replying to your messages?
    – AakashM
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 8:38
  • @enderland will really appreciate if you could elaborate. I genuinely want to improve the situation and ready to make any personal changes. I have tried sending polite mails and messages but if i do not get a response, What should i do?
    – MoveFast
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 11:11
  • 1
    This is a rant with a question tacked on to legitimize it. I sympathize with your situation, but as it stands, this question is not really in scope for wp.SE.
    – acolyte
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 13:53
  • 8
    The topic raised in this question is very interesting, and with proper wording is a good fit here.
    – superM
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 15:28
  • 4
    @superM thanks for editing. I see that my wording was not appropriate. Actually I felt frustrated when people were unresponsive and made an assumption that they consider themselves superior. Not sure if my assumption is correct.
    – MoveFast
    Commented Apr 12, 2013 at 15:43

5 Answers 5


Some people think that they have no need to answer IM or emails because they only want to do the tasks they want to do. Your task isn't important to them, so they ignore it. So if I have a colleague who doesn't get back to me in a timely manner, I go actually ask them the questions in person (or by phone if they are remote). Be polite but firm. If they try to avoid answering, explain you need the answer immediately becasue you can't make any progress until the issue is resolved and then stand there until they help you. YOU cay say it casually (not in a nasty manner) so something like "Hey I hadn't heard back from you about ABC, so I thought I'd see if you can help me out or when you will be able to get me the information." Ask if they will show you where you can get the information so you don't have to keep bothering them. Note that you don't do this if they are only not answering you instantly, but if several hours have gone by without even an acknowledgement of the message.

Another approach is to schedule a meeting with them. Then discuss how they would prefer to be contacted and how you can resolve the communication issue so that both of you can get your jobs done. You may find they think you are bothering them with things that you should be able to figure out on your own.

If they still refuse to give you what you need, you may need to escalate it to the boss, but this is an action of last resort. You won't make friends this way, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do to get the job done and if people know they can't tromp on you they will be less likely to try in the future.

  • In addition, you might want to read Mikey's post, and make sure that you're asking constructive questions and that you're doing your own investigation before asking someone else. workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/11119/…
    – atk
    Commented Apr 16, 2013 at 20:00
  • So, what if the boss does nothing about it? I have been in that situation plenty of times.
    – John61590
    Commented Oct 2, 2017 at 22:52

I think Dale Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People has some good advice on how to get people to see things your way. It would seem these would apply in your case:

Six Ways to Make People Like You

  1. Become genuinely interested in other people.
  2. Smile.
  3. Remember that a person's name is, to that person, the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
  4. Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves.
  5. Talk in terms of the other person's interest.
  6. Make the other person feel important – and do it sincerely.

If they want to think they are better, and you aren't treating them with respect, it will make you have a smaller chance of getting them to do what you want. Yes, you don't approve. So what? You say yourself you have to work with them. Play along.

If you actively dislike them and seek to avoid them except when you want something, it is any wonder that they don't bend over backwards to meet your requests?

  • 1
    So i will get more friends if i read and follow the book ? Commented Apr 14, 2013 at 23:43
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    be careful nowadays that the moment they find you are the friendly type, the moment they view you as bullyable Commented Mar 28, 2014 at 12:25

You never mention missing deadlines. Make sure you have established due dates along with your time estimate. If you have a question, let them know the request is on hold and what level of risk there is for not getting it to them when they need it.

If they don't provide a due date, you can only assume it has no priority, so why stress yourself? No one can expect you to have something completed today, if you have to wait until tomorrow to get answers.

Don't assume everyone is aware of your daily schedule. Give some insight into your current workload. Let them know you have another project starting tomorrow, so it's important they get back to you sooner if they want it completed.

Meetings and other things happen, so don't think everyone is ignoring you for no reason.

  1. Make sure you include the reason your question is important in your written communication. For example, "I can't make progress on task X without this info," or "This is a blocker for task Y."
  2. If that doesn't work, call or show up at their desk.

Give them a taste of own medicine. When they need something from you urgently, don't respond. See how quickly things changed.

I have tried few times and work every single times.

  • 4
    Being extremely passive aggressive is unprofessional and more likely to escalate conflict as opposed to solving a problem (Hence the downvotes)
    – Chris G
    Commented Aug 11, 2016 at 21:03

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