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When a superior emails me to 'let me know' of something (e.g., Dear Bob, I'll be absent of the Tuesday meeting because of x.) I don't know what response has a proper tone, or if it's just OK to not respond.

My thoughts are that: "Got it, thank you.", "Message received, thank you.", and "Ok, thanks!", sound like things a superior would be responding me (rather than the other way around).

Thus, my questions are:

1) Is it ever OK to just not respond?

2) What response would be proper for a superior to 'confirm' the receipt of an email that does not ask for a reply, but not so proper that it sounds obsequious - or that you're a sycophant?

  • I never respond to such emails from my boss, unless he specifically asks a question. – Dave Johnson Mar 25 '14 at 13:19
  • The simple answer here is the one word-email "Understood." – Fattie Feb 21 at 14:08
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1) Is it ever OK to just not respond?

Depends. I would err on the side of caution and send a response if I have any reason at all to believe one is required. If you receive it from the same person you could consult them and ask if it's useful for your to reply to there announcements of being out of contact. If the message was sent to a large group of people (for example the entire department) don't bother replying, on the other hand if it's just to you then I would reply with a brief message.

2) What response would be proper for a superior to 'confirm' the receipt of an email that does not ask for a reply, but not so proper that it sounds obsequious - or that you're a sycophant?

Thank them for letting you know but keep it brief. For example reply with a line saying "Ok thanks for letting me know".

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If the message specifically starts with "Dear Vietnhi", I reply with a single word: "Acknowledged" If the message is addressed to the group, then I refrain from replying unless specifically requested to do so - the guy's Inbox would be getting cluttered up pretty fast if we all kept acknowledging his emails. I had a boss who deluged my Inbox with so much email requesting acknowledgement that I would occasionally miss an important announcement from him, simply because it was buried in all the junk that was already in my Inbox.

  • I understand that technical fields might have other standards and English is not my native language but writing “Acknowledged” sounds awkward to me. – Relaxed Mar 25 '14 at 5:41
  • I use "Acknowledged" all the time. It's short, clear, easy to write (for me), easy to read (for the other person) and it conveys exactly the message and meaning I want to convey. I usually put it at the end of the "Subject" line so that the other person can read the message without having to click the email open. That's good enough for me :) – Vietnhi Phuvan Mar 25 '14 at 5:56
  • 1
    Definitely it makes a difference whether it was email directly to you, or whether you were just one of the recipients on the CC list. – Carson63000 Mar 25 '14 at 8:20
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It is always a good to answer if the sender expects you to take some kind of action, so that he knows you received the message and will do the action (or not, of course).

If the email is merely informing you of something that will not require you to act or change your working day, generally no response is required. It should not make a difference to you whether you read it or not, so there's little point to informing the other person.

So if your boss let you know he wouldn't make it to the meeting because he expected you to inform others, a reply like "I have informed the team" would be a good idea.

If he's just letting you (or the whole team) know because he wanted to sit in but would take no important/active part in the meeting, there's no real reason to respond.

If he and you are the only two people in the meeting, a response like "Okay, we'll reschedule it when you get back" might be helpful, although I would expect him to have put that in the mail.

(This answer hinges on that employees read all their emails, of course.)

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1) Yes, there are cases where no response can make sense. "Let me know if something comes up that blocks you...." being the classic one that a boss may send in some cases.

2) Be careful of saying anything like "Ok, thanks!" as this may be seen as answering in the affirmative to what was in the e-mail that may not be the intention. "Let me know if this can be done today to take over the world," that an "Ok, thanks!" may be seen as you didn't read the message in this case.

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