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Question: “I feel that I am being ignored because of my age. I am a young employee who recently attained a position in which I have to interact with top-level managers. When I request information from them, I find it difficult to get responses. I believe they are not taking me seriously. How should I handle this?” — Young & Frustrated

Marie’s Answer: Communicating with busy executives is a challenge, even for older folks. Odds are that the cause of your problem is not age, but inexperience. To improve your response rate, consider these questions:

•  Are you aiming too high? If a lower-level person might be able to help, try that route first. Executives should be your last resort.

•  Do the unresponsive managers know who you are? Executives are more attuned to people near their own level, so consider invoking your boss’s name in your requests.

• Have you explained why you need the information? People are more motivated to reply when the reason for a request is clear, so explain how your work benefits the company.

 • Is the information hard to obtain or compile? The more effort required, the fewer replies you will receive. Look for ways to make the task easier.

• Are you relying too heavily on e-mail?
Executives receive a daily deluge of electronic communication, so your e-mails could easily be overlooked. Consider following up by phone or in person.

Finally, get to know the executive assistants in your company. Most assistants are extremely adept at managing communication with their bosses. If they like you and want to help, they can make your life much easier.

For additional information, see “Gaining face time with a busy boss.”

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