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I have a colleague that works in different building. I only know this colleague by name but not by the person, meaning that we never see each other face-to-face. I have a work that is dependent on this colleague. I've been trying to contact the colleague, by email and instant messaging, but the colleague is ignoring me. How do I solve this problem?

  • There are multiple good answers already providing the basic advice to escalate this to the appropriate people so I won't add another but as a side-suggestion have you tried picking up the phone? – motosubatsu Jun 3 at 8:37
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    @JoeStrazzere Sir, though I don;t advocate against what you've suggested, by why do you think it is a good idea? The work is what should get priorities - not the mode of communication - is not that? – Sourav Ghosh Jun 3 at 10:33
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    Are you actually certain that the person is voluntarily ignoring you, and not on vacation or home sick? – Law29 Jun 3 at 20:03
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    How long has it been since you started trying to contact them? – Acccumulation Jun 3 at 20:37
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    Possible duplicate of How to deal with "unresponsive" colleagues? – Dukeling Jun 3 at 21:15
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I have a work that is dependent on this colleague. I've been trying to contact the colleague, by email and instant messaging, but the colleague is ignoring me. How do I solve this problem?

You have never met this person who is ignoring you. Fix that now.

Take a few minutes to walk over to their office, introduce yourself, and talk about the work that you need this colleague to perform.

If you sat next to this person, you would just lean over and chat to start the communication flowing. So, take a few extra steps and do the same. People who know you are far more likely to respond, than people you don't actually know.

If the other office is too far away for this to be practical, use the telephone and call.

Making a personal connection with a co-worker, rather than relying on faceless textual communication, is often far more effective in getting someone to do something that you need done.

You can always follow up with an email later, if a record of the conversation is necessary.

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    +1 Escalate is the next step, but trying to get a face-to-face meeting goes a long way in getting the communication flowing. But if after that you still don't get results, then escalate! – filbranden Jun 3 at 12:28
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    Many professional relationships are built upon a personal relationship. Whether you are a peer of this colleague or not, it would be good to introduce yourself in a personal manner, in person. There could be any number of reasons you are being ignored. Showing the initiative to get over there and introduce yourself might be seen as evidence of your good character. Not going over there may tell him that your needs are not worth your trouble to walk over there. Or it could be something else altogether. You will only find out if you meet him. – Jim Jun 3 at 19:43
  • Maybe instead of walking over in their office, I would prefer a short planned meeting to be sure to not disturb. That person might also be in an open space. – Walfrat Jun 4 at 6:57
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    We call this door stepping at work and is often the only way, particularly when people are very busy/don’t know you, to get a response. It always shocked me that other colleagues 1) didn’t read all their emails 2) didn’t prioritise daily taking into account any new requests alongside existing 3) didn’t feel obliged to respond in a timely fashion. A face and context to a request is definitely helpful + – QHarr Jun 4 at 12:35
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How do I solve this problem?

Exactly the same way if the colleague was located in a different continent : over official communication channels. Just because they are in the same office , different building, does not mean you have to go out of your way to get the work done.

  • If you have a work that depends on the participation from a certain person, inform them over email. [You've done already, good].

  • If they are non-responsive, loop in your higher authority (superior / manager) in the follow up reminder emails. [Couple of retries, not more than that].

    • If it's the case that you both have never communicated before, and if you have a phone number (official number preferred) that you can call up, try giving them a call, introduce yourself and remind them of the help / involvement you'd need from them to get the work done.
  • Even then if it still gets ignored, escalate to the higher authority by dropping an email to your manager informing about the non-availability of the involvement from that person, with the copies of communication you sent out earlier.

They should be able to take it further, your job is done.

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    In general, when I have needed to escalate (by calling on a team's manager), my own manager would prefer to be in CC of the e-mail so as to have context should things go further south. I would definitely check with my manager before escalating, and ask them how they prefer to proceed. – Matthieu M. Jun 3 at 18:26
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    In my experience it is more common to escalate to your own manager. He or she can then escalate to your colleague's manager, manager-to-manager. If you bypass that process some will see it as very pushy. – John Wu Jun 4 at 7:16
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    @JohnWu Isn't that exactly what I wrote? "...dropping an email to your manager" – Sourav Ghosh Jun 4 at 7:17
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    You said "loop in the higher authority" which to me is ambiguous.There is a lot of risk if misinterpreted. – John Wu Jun 4 at 7:47
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    It could have meant either, but it sounded more like "their manager" to me, too. Probably because of the previous part: "If they are non-responsive, loop in the higher authority". It sounds like "Contacting them directly didn't work, now go one level higher". Might also be a cultural difference, but eh, it's unambiguous now. – R. Schmitz Jun 4 at 9:09
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Escalate

If your work is dependent on this colleague, you need to raise this with your line manager. They can then escalate to the appropriate level, or contact their counterpart in your colleague's department.

It also highlights the issue to your manager, who can take account of this when assigning work to you.

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Just inform your project manager or whoever gave you this work task.

Describe how you have tried to contact this person and for what purpose, and the impact that the non-replies are having on your work. Then let your manager decide what to do about it or escalate as appropriate.

You've done what you can.

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