5 Client Inbox Personalities (And How To Respond To Each)

We all have a tendency to misread emails. The tones we hear in our heads can dictate our responses, which could hinder our working relationships.

Photo: Bryanne Lawless, founder of BLND Public Relations; Source: Courtesy Photo
Photo: Bryanne Lawless, founder of BLND Public Relations; Source: Courtesy Photo

We all have a tendency to misread emails. The tones we hear in our heads can dictate our responses, which could hinder the working relationship and impact the success of a project.

Unfortunately, we can’t pick which personalities land in our inbox. But we can try to understand them and pinpoint certain emails, helping us learn how to communicate more efficiently with clients (without pulling our hair out).

Our PR team has generated a list of the top five types of personalities we see every day in our inbox, along with solutions for the best way to respond.


1. The Hounder

You went to bed with a clean inbox, only to wake up to a horrifying number of unread emails from the same person; each discussing the same topic with disjointed thoughts and ideas.

Did you reply quickly enough? Clearly not, because now you have another slew of unread emails following up on whether you had received those previous emails. Suddenly, your inbox has been taken over by a client who needs affirmation, constant communication, and handholding at their convenience.


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Be calm: Train your clients by setting email boundaries. Do not answer those emails right away (unless there is a serious crisis). Send one single email that addresses only the pertinent information crucial for campaign success.

These emails create a false sense of urgency and will only cause you more stress if you don’t take a step back and realize this barrage doesn’t mean the world is falling apart. “The Hounder” email personality simply wants to know you’re there and are listening.


2. The Novelist

All you needed was one simple answer to a quick question. Instead, you have received the annotated version of War and Peace. Our best suggestion? Skim the page until you find keywords where the actual response to your original inquiry is hiding, or be extremely specific in the what you are asking for, limiting their ability to diverge into tangents.

Once you’ve done this, explain why the information they provided is important to the success of the campaign. Be sure to move forward in case they decide at the last minute to pull out of an amazing opportunity. After all, those novel-length emails will prove to be your best asset to help your client recall decisions they’ve made that have stalled any success on your part.


3. The Selective Mute

These clients seem to be impossible to reach during pivotal moments. They take days to respond to an action that needs immediate attention, or take weeks to greenlight a timely pitch. The radio silence becomes too much to handle when they stop calling into those mandatory conference calls that they schedule weekly.


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To deal with this reality, prepare all materials for future use. Collect information ahead of time so that you do not have to rely heavily on their presence. If they need to greenlight every idea, get their approval ahead of time in an email so you have permission to go after timely opportunities. Don’t be afraid to call your client when you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place and cannot move forward unless they are available.


4. The GIF-er

Sometimes, it’s hard not to laugh when a client is in good spirits and sends an unexpected GIF to highlight a success, no matter how big or small. However, we’re talking about the “GIF-ers” who incessantly send GIFs that become a waste of space in our inbox.

Don’t feel tempted to send GIFs in response; they are distracting and are not going to aid in your team’s productivity. GIFs and memes can quickly become overwhelming and get misconstrued within seconds: Avoid reading into them by simply ignoring them. This rule also applies for emojis.


5. The Tattler

Don’t you love it when everyone in the office is copied on an email that only requires the initial person’s response? We call these people “Tattlers,” since they seem to want every conversation in every person’s inbox.


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Discretion and looping in the correct recipients does not seem to be of concern. Always assume every email you send and receive will have outside eyes on it. Be aware of the content in your email, and clearly label who you are directly emailing. Follow your client’s protocol in continuing to loop in the team, even if they one-off email you. This allows the client to slowly reshape their CC-ing tendencies.


This article has been edited.

Bryanne Lawless opened BLND Public Relations in 2013 to focus on what she loves most, lifestyle brands. Connect with @BLNDPR on Twitter.


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