What's the best way to remember someone

Kindly remind you of something - without getting on your nerves

Again and again we feel compelled to remind someone of something: to pay the last bill, to respond to the invitation to the specialist conference, or to send the information without which we cannot make progress with the project.

Most of the time, such situations feel uncomfortable. After all, we don't want to annoy anyone ...

Therefore, today we have a few tips for good, effective reminder emails that you can use to cultivate the relationship with your counterpart at the same time.

Try to make a reminder superfluous from the start

It would of course be best if you didn't have to write a reminder at all. You can encourage that by yourself

  • clearly state which person you expect and what exactly. So do not address your request to the whole team. Because nobody feels really responsible that way.
  • explain why what you are asking is important. An example: If your addressee understands that you definitely need an intern's assessment by Friday, because the intern's semester depends on it, she will probably weight this task appropriately.
  • Make the benefit for your addressee clear. An example: For our in-house seminars, we request texts from the companies about four weeks before the seminar date so that we can really work on relevant tasks. This is exactly what we write in the query e-mail: "So that you can benefit as specifically as possible from our writing seminar, please send us an up-to-date text (1 to 2 pages) from each participant by March 20th, 2020."
  • You make it as easy as possible for your counterpart to complete the desired task. An example: Send the invoice again when you receive a payment reminder. Then your addressee does not need to search for it.

With these four measures you reduce the likelihood of having to remind your counterpart again - but of course it sometimes happens anyway.

How you formulate your reminder - in a friendly but firm manner

Let's take the example from above again: querying the texts for our writing seminars.

It happens again and again: One or two days after the deadline, we find out: Hm, the lyrics are not there yet. So we remind our customers of this. It reads like this:

Subject: A friendly reminder: Our request for current sample texts from the participants for the writing seminar by March 20, 2020

Hello, Mrs. Example,

Our writing seminar will take place in just under four weeks and I'll come back to you to ask: Have you already had the opportunity to ask the participants about the texts?

As already mentioned, it is the work on your own texts that makes the seminar so effective for the participants. In order to be able to prepare this thoroughly, we need some advance notice.

If only a few texts are missing, please send me a first batch, then I can look through them.

Otherwise, I'm looking forward to getting the lyrics by tomorrow evening.

Thank you very much for all your help!

Best regards
Franziska Nauck

Tip 1: Include a “Kind Reminder” in the subject line.

In this way you send an important signal and the other person feels less pressured or "caught" and ashamed.

Tip 2: DO NOT charge. Choose I instead of you messages.

I have written:

"I'm looking forward to receiving the lyrics by tomorrow evening." (I-message)

I could also have written:

“You haven't sent me the lyrics yet.” That would be the you message.

The you message is accusation and speculation rolled into one. On the one hand you point out what you have missed, on the other hand you cannot be sure that the person really did not send the texts. If she did - and the message did not arrive for technical reasons - you are damaging the relationship with this accusation.

With the I-message, on the other hand, you only stick to what you yourself perceive. The interesting thing about it: The I-message is a fact, because I am actually looking forward to the texts because I want to deliver a good seminar.

Further examples:

You message: You have not yet complied with my request to examine the application.

I message: I would be delighted if you would examine the application by tomorrow.

You message: You have not yet answered my meeting request.

I message: I would like to meet you as soon as possible.

It's amazing how different the versions sound, isn't it?

With the I-Message you leave it open whether your counterpart is responsible for an omission at all - and you do not press him into a defensive position. After all, you want to maintain the relationship and continue to work well together.

Tip 3: Name the (positive) consequences to show how important the action is.

In the example I name the positive consequences in order to motivate my counterpart:

It is the work on your own texts that makes the seminar so effective for the participants. In order to be able to prepare this thoroughly, we need a little advance notice.

I could also name the negative consequences. That would sound more like a threat:

If you do not send me the texts on time, I will not be able to prepare the seminar precisely and the participants will not take much away from it.

Therefore, always formulate the positive consequences.

Write to us: What experiences do you have with reminders in your everyday life?

During this time in particular, some things will certainly be left behind and priorities will shift. Nevertheless, life and work go on. All the better if you then have the tools to follow up in a friendly manner.

But the most important thing: stay healthy and show solidarity!

Franziska Nauck and Nadja Buoyardane
Business writing courses

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