I remember the day when writing emails, responding to LinkedIn messages, leaving voicemails and writing letters used to result in a response of some kind – even in the most attritional culture. Nowadays however, and I know that I’m not alone in this, I often get ‘deafening silence’ as a response.
It doesn’t take much for a courtesy response, even if it’s ‘thanks but no thanks’. And it really doesn’t take much effort! You’d think that for some people it would involve a massive commitment of time, planning and energy – it really does not!
Let me give you an example. A while ago, a former colleague reached out to me to check on my availability for some work that was needed in a location abroad where I had previously worked. I responded with my availability and willingness to have further discussions. When I heard nothing, I checked in one last time to ensure that my response had got through. Again – no response. Why?
Have we become so obsessed with WIIFM (What’s In It For Me), that if someone doesn’t meet our criteria or respond as we would like, that the response is to walk away and just move on? Personally I don’t think that’s a great way to build and maintain professional relationships.
Another example …. a company I had been doing some work for sent me an email asking for a specific piece of follow-up information to help them analyze next steps. I duly provided this. Is it too much to ask for just a ‘thank you’?
In an age when people espouse values and culture as a differentiator, I am finding that the courtesy of a response to a request is becoming optional rather than common. Maybe it’s the advance of social media that is impregnating this habit. We read what we want and engage when we want. In other words, the whole world revolves around ME and my agenda.
One response to this behavior is to adopt the same practice. But, I’d like to suggest that ‘do to others as you’d like them to do to you’, is a better way. Maybe with a few people at a time, we can turn the tide! Oh, and I haven’t even started on the subject of showing great leadership and being a role model ….. enough said!