People, please help me. I am perplexed. Was I checking my Facebook when the amendment to the rules of polite communications got circulated?
In the last few years, I've noticed an increasing trend of decreasing responses.
Now, I too have ignored an e-mail here and there, primarily SPAM or repeated e-mails sent from businesses with whom I have already communicated my disinterest in their product or service.
I do, however, pride myself on the fact that I will always respond to an e-mail that was clearly composed with me in mind.
Do I like every e-mail that I receive? Not possible.
Do I like every person that's ever sent me an e-mail? Nope, of course not.
Even if I receive an e-mail from someone that leaves my stomach churning, I'll still reply. Sure, it might take me a day or two of festering; consulting with my most trusted human (wifey) and bingeing on Oprah, Brené Brown and all the other "you can do it grrrl, embrace your vulnerability and own that power within" gurus. But I tell you what. I get it done.
I sit. I open up my e-mail and then I write. Delete. Write again. Switch sentence sequences. Write some more and then take the dog for a walk. Then I come back, delete all the copy that distracts from the critical point, then re-compose. Then I walk away again. Come back. Re-read. Deep breathe in. Deep breathe out. Deep breathe innnnn… and "send". Then I re-read and find a bloody typo that had been hiding during all the other checks. Ah well.
I know the recipient may not like my response, but I'm okay with that. So long as I know that I have taken the time to respond in as diplomatic a manner as the situation allows for, then I can sleep at night.
I am also aware that I can occasionally be an over-communicator, but not as flagrantly as I used to be. Once a wild horse who was kicking up words all over the dusty plains; I've slowly acquired the skills to keep my messages (relatively) neat and concise so that my words may gently canter over the screens of clients, colleagues, friends and family with equestrienne-like ability.
We're all swamped, I get that. If the answer to my e-mail is time-critical but not incoming, I'll send a polite reminder and request a time for a phone call if any matters require further discussion.
However, if the delay isn't a show stopper, I'll allow for days or weeks, depending on the message content. But no response at all? That's just rude.
Is this just me? Apparently not. I've discussed my ponderings with others, and the general feedback averaged out to "Oh my Gawd. Shut the gate! I've been thinking about that too! What's worse is when you can see that they've read your message and then ghost you. What's with that?".
Let's press pause here. I'm making it appear as if nobody ever replies to my messages. No. I'd be a blubbering mess if that were the case.
I am happy to confirm that I do in fact, maintain a healthy level of polite and friendly communications with many clients, colleagues, friends and family.
What gets me picking away nervously at the random hairs on my face and staring into my pantry searching out anxiety blocking snacks are the non-responses to e-mails that were very obviously written directly to someone with a request for a response, only to be met with deafening silence.
The consequence of no response, in alignment with my evaporating self-esteem, is an assumption that the reader either doesn't like what I wrote; doesn't feel comfortable with a negative response or (here's the 3am sweat fest), they don't like me. There could be a million other reasons, but where facts aren’t available, doubt and conspiracy thrives.
Do I have the answers to this phenomenon? No. As per my opening sentence, I missed that memo… or the LinkedIn link to that "silence is the best response" TED Talk.
So, If you are prone to muttering a "meh" and swiping right…or left… on e-mails (whatever the reject direction is on Tinder), I’ve ripped off a Beatles tune and re-worked it. May it become an earwig that nudges you towards pressing ‘reply’ instead of ‘delete’.
People used to write back to say "well, hey!"
Now it looks as if they've gone away
I miss those replies from yesterday.
There's not half the responses there used to be
There's a mystery hanging over me
Oh, why don't people reply to me?
Why you can't say "let me think about" … "go away" or even just "no."
You refuse to say
Did I say something wrong?
Now I long for yesterday …ay …ay..ay.
What was in our mind we used to say
Now so many opt to just hideaway
Oh, please just say what you need to say.
Written by Fiona Sproles – July 2019