Case Management Focus: What Happened to Communication Etiquette — Phone Calls, Emails, Text Messages?

30 Apr, 2024 Anne Llewellyn


Sarasota, FL ( -- One of my pet peeves is calling/emailing or texting someone professionally and not getting a response back. I never understand why the person did not send a short note, that they got my message, and will get back to me as soon as they can.

I realize people are busy but what happened to the days when we practiced professional courtesy or communication etiquette?  The days when people returned phone calls or left a voicemail with the details of their call. What happened to the days that people actually corresponded and responded to your phone calls, emails or text messages in a timely manner?

Today, there are so many ways to communicate – it is easy for messages to get lost, so don’t take ‘no response’ personally. I wanted to send a reminder that responding to workplace communications in a timely way is part of good communication etiquette. Here are some tips that might help you communicate effectively in our fast-paced world.


Experts say it is courteous to respond by the end of the day, if possible, but not longer than 24 hours.

Avoid using ‘reply all’ – if it doesn’t pertain to all. It only adds to the bulk of a busy person’s Inbox and causes frustration.

Take a minute to acknowledge the email even if you can’t send the requested information right away. Send a response saying that you’re working on it and when you expect to have the information to the sender. Mark the email as it needs a response to remind you to act on the request.

 Stay on subject. Respond to the topic of the email but avoid introducing a new subject in the same email thread. Start a new email instead with a new subject line. This helps keep your emails specific to the topic.

 Don’t always respond to an email with another email especially if you have questions or the matter is important. Pick up the phone instead or have a face-to-face meeting if the tone or topic of the email is emotional, terse, or needs a lengthy discussion.

If you will be out of the office for an extended time, add an out-of-office message for your email. This helps callers understand why you may not be able to respond as quickly. If someone is covering for you, include that information so that someone can get an answer to their questions.


 Use emoticons sparingly in a response, and only with someone you know well professionally.

 Group texts can be efficient, but only respond to the sender, not the entire group unless everyone in the group needs to see your response.

Don’t respond to an email with a text as this adds to the confusion of the variety of communications tools we have today.

Text messages are for short information/comments, not for communicating lengthy information. If you have a response that is lengthy or will have an attachment let the person know by text that you will send them an email with more information.

Phone messages:

Respond by the end of the day, if possible, but not longer than 24 hours. Don’t want to leave people hanging.

As with your voice email, if you will be out of the office for an extended time, record an out-of-office voice message on your phone. This helps callers understand why you may not be able to respond as quickly. If someone is covering for you, include that information.

I hope these tips help remind you that your response to emails, text messages and phone care are important for the flow of all of our work!

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    About The Author

    • Anne Llewellyn

      Anne Llewellyn is a registered nurse with over forty years of experience in critical care, risk management, case management, patient advocacy, healthcare publications and training and development. Anne has been a leader in the area of Patient Advocacy since 2010. She was a Founding member of the Patient Advocate Certification Board and is currently serving on the National Association of Health Care Advocacy. Anne writes a weekly Blog, Nurse Advocate to share stories and events that will educate and empower people be better prepared when they enter the healthcare system.

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