Like any tool, read receipt can be used as a tool for providing great service or it can be used as a tool for passive-aggression.
As a project manager, I often have to maintain quite a few different communication paths with different people from different departments, and managing this communication alone can be quite daunting.
Learn from Expert Sales Teams
One thing I've learned from working on software products that track leads and help sales teams convert more sales is that response time is critical. The MIT Lead Response Study says the following:
The odds of qualifying a lead in 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drop 21 times. And from 5 minutes to 10 minutes the dial to qualify odds decrease 4 times.
Basically, the first 5 minutes are critical for a very profound reason: The person whom you are reaching out to is actively thinking about your product or service. Wait 10 minutes, and that person may move onto other things. Call later, and you're likely to interrupt.
Apply Lead Response to Read Receipts
So, how exactly does that apply to read-receipts, you ask? Well, we might not be trying to sell something, but the psychology is still the same. When you as the sender get that read receipt confirmation from the email you sent to Bob, you know that Bob is now actively thinking about whatever it is that you sent him. Pick up the phone and call him, and you're less likely to interrupt. Instead, you're more likely to catch Bob in the mode to discuss whatever problems you both are trying to solve.
Using read-receipt in this manner can lead to much more productive interactions, as well as the same "wow" effect that sales teams experience when they call a potential customer while that person is actively thinking about the problem they're trying to solve.
Thus, if you get emails requesting read-receipt, stop thinking that they're out to get you. This person just may be trying to do a better job at managing his or her communications. If you are a person who uses read receipts in this manner, be sure to communicate why you are requesting read receipts as this will help curb any misunderstandings.