×

Stay up to Date

Thoughts and leadership game changers from Merge Lane
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Mergelane Blog

Broadening the On-ramp for Women-run Companies

“Sorry for the Delay”? I Don’t Accept Your Apology

Nearly every email I receive seems to start with “Sorry for the delay.” I realize that people do this as a sign of respect, but it actually has the opposite effect on me.

I have built my life in a way that allows me to work with my circadian rhythm and carve out time for deep work. I tend to catch up on emails when my brain is too tired to be creative. When I send emails at 9 pm on Fridays, I never expect an immediate response. However, I frequently receive responses on Saturday or Sunday that start with “Sorry for the delay.”

"Sorry !" by Wiertz Sébastien is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0 >

I’m baffled and saddened by this. It seems that our always-on culture has set an unwritten expectation that an email should be responded to within 24 hours, regardless of when it is received. I do not have this expectation. To prevent the perpetuation of this cultural expectation, I would like to make my thoughts clear.

I like to send emails when I have the space to do so. I used to schedule my emails so they would be received during business hours, but I have found that many people prefer to look at email outside those times. If we correspond frequently and you have a preference, please let me know.

I do not ask permission to send emails and do not feel entitled to your response.

I realize my email may not be in line with your priorities. I want my portfolio companies and the people I care about to stay focused on their priorities. I also want people to answer emails in a manner that enables them to say yes to their personal well-being, passions, and interests.

I do not expect lengthy, carefully crafted responses to my emails. This is especially true for my portfolio companies and people I know well. Simple responses like “Not a fit” or “Can’t make it” suffice.

I appreciate and respond to urgency flags. I check my email every couple of hours and will respond to anything that requires urgent attention. I try to flag urgent emails and appreciate urgency flagging from others.

I prefer candor. “Sorry for the delay” is often an inauthentic response. Are you really sorry that you prioritized something else? I prefer responses like “Does not sound fun to me” or “Not in line with my priorities.” If you really want to explain further, I’d like to read something like:

“Rather than answering your non-urgent email immediately, I’m going to slot my response in line with other business priorities.”

“After spending six hours on my laptop, I decided to go outside and take a walk.”

Receiving messages like that will help me follow my own advice. I produce the best results when I stay focused on MergeLane’s strategic priorities, find time to be proactive rather than reactive, and allow room for creativity and innovation. This often means that I answer emails more slowly. While I know this approach yields the best results, the cultural expectation for immediacy and my desire to be helpful are powerful forces.

Related Posts

Striving for Success Unapologetically

It is amazing what you can achieve if you get out of your own way.

Read more ➞

When the “Safe” Route Is Actually Less Safe

I have learned the important lesson that being mediocre at anything is not a “safe” path to success. I now realize that the “safe” path for others may not be the best route for me.

Read more ➞

What If Everything Goes Right Rather Than Wrong?

In investing, and in life in general, an ability to foresee potential pitfalls has served me well. However, being able to see what can go wrong can prevent me from seizing an opportunity. I sometimes forget that most of my successes have been the result of seemingly impossible feats.

Read more ➞

Holidays: Why Stressing Might Be More Relaxing Than Destressing

While holidays are designed to help people rest, I almost always feel exhausted after them. I’ve started to take a completely different approach. Especially if you are a type A entrepreneur, this approach may work for you, too.

Read more ➞

Stay up to date!

Sign up to receive updates on everything we are up to, including future events and the latest news.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!

Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form