How to deal with those vague emails

If someone sends you a vague, unspecific email, we tend to just let it rot in the inbox.  While that’s happening, the other person is angry there’s no response.

Instead of:

a) not responding;

b) sending a holding email

or c) sending back an equally vague reply, do this:


Why:    maybe there’s an alternative to this request.

But don’t get back with questions phrased with ‘Why?’.  These could seem too aggressive.
Instead of using questions with ‘why?’, ask these instead:
    • Can I ask why you need this for tomorrow?
    • I’m wondering why you need..
    • What’s the thinking behind…
    • What triggered this need….

What:       do you want exactly
Where:    must it be
When:     would you like it

Your Action:

Next time you get a big ask, or a vague one, pose a
1. Why alternative
and only then ask questions with:
2. What
3. Where
4. When

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