What's the key to acquiring a quick reply to your email? Make the recipients think that if they do not reply immediately, it will be the final action that tips your day—nay, your life—into an abyss of distressing turmoil. No, it's not clarity, urgency, or brevity that garners replies; it's negativity and pessimism.
According to a study by software company Contactually, emails with negative words are more likely to see a quick response. Contactually studied over 100 million email conversations and grouped them according to this binary. For example, words like "missed" and "stupid" fell into the negative category, while words like "care" and "amazing" were considered positive.
Now, negative emails could receive faster replies because emergencies tend to be negative. Pessimistic people could also be more judgmental and impatient, also harsher with consequences if they don't get their way. Cheerfulness rarely implies ramifications. Really we're getting into questions of whether a carrot or a stick is more effective, or whether it is better to be feared than loved, and that's a whole other thing someone else wrote about.
This study also found that people who consistently used negative language were more likely to reply to emails within 24 hours. They saw responses to 64 percent of their emails within the day, while their happier colleagues replied to 47 percent within the day. In a similar study, researchers at Glasgow University discovered that people who replied quickly to emails are more likely to be stressed or have low self-esteem. The researchers extrapolated that people who don't let email overtake their lives, tend to have a chiller disposition.
But if you want people to respond to you quickly, spin a gloomy tone into your correspondence—and make those happy people hop to it. This news will confuse exclamation point-happy PR people to no end. I'll report back if their emails take a turn for the dark.