Hackernoon logoHow to force an email response from someone who is ignoring you by@p0larboy

How to force an email response from someone who is ignoring you

Colin Toh Hacker Noon profile picture

@p0larboyColin Toh

Senior Software Engineer

Credit: https://unsplash.com/search/no?photo=oRhhb0f2Kic

Tired of getting your email ignored? Try this neat technique.

You had been chasing a potential lead for a few weeks and things were looking up for you.

The rapport was strong and with some gentle nudging, this lead can be converted into a full-time paying client. Victory was so near, you can almost taste it.

Then, communication just went cold.

Your emails were ignored and no reasons were given. Was it some off-the-cuff remarks that you made? Or were they secretly unhappy about the contract’s clauses?

There was no way to find out.

Your ignored emails felt like shredded paper strewn all over the floor.

What else can you do?

Ask a “No”-oriented question

I learnt this technique off a book — “Never Split The Difference” by Chris Voss.

Chris, a successful hostage negotiator, suggested that instead of chasing responses with “Yes”-oriented questions which we always do, try doing the opposite.

Asking a “No”-oriented question that suggests that you are prepared to walk away.

I will briefly explain the psyche behind this but to get the full gist of it, I highly recommend buying the book.

The Bait

“Have you given up on paying off the remainder of the projects?”

When human disagree by saying “No”, it provides them an illusion of safety and control. They feel less threatened and more in the driving seat. The above question is like a bait for them.

On top of that, the underlying notion of you walking away at your own terms plays on your counterpart’s human aversion to loss.

To reduce their loss and to regain assertiveness on the situation, they become more incline to reply immediately with a disagreement.

To be honest, when I first read about this technique, I wasn’t really into it. It sounded gimmicky and my emails hardly get ignored. So I couldn’t foresee that I would be reaping the benefit of this technique anytime soon.

How I got a second chance

I was in the midst of negotiation with my supplier over the minimum quantity of orders needed for them to start production. We were going back and forth with different offers when suddenly the communication went dead silent.

My Skype messages went unanswered and email messages were ignored. I must have pushed the deal off the cliff with my tough stance. I mulled over it and concluded that there will be no happy ending.

A few days later, I remembered the technique of asking “No”-oriented question from Chris’s book. What’s the harm in trying since it is already a lost cause?

So I crafted my message carefully and clicked “send”.

An hour later, I got their reply.

What sorcery is this???

I will not be showing their reply but basically it was a disagreement to my question and the whole negotiation kicks off again. At last, a sliver of hope!


If your emails are getting ignored, go ahead and ask a “No”-oriented question. It might sound rude to you but it’s actually not. You will come off as direct and forth-coming.

You know what is rude? Ignoring emails is rude.

Update: Someone tried out the technique and it worked!

Support the author of this book :

Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It

Also, press “♥︎” to help me promote this article to others.

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