Remember the last time you sent that email or text and didn’t hear back?
How did you feel?
What did you do?
Did you interpret the silence?
When you put out a communication and don’t hear back, there is always clutter.
Most people interpret the silence and make the same mistake, which only causes more clutter.
The silence doesn’t speak (duh) so you don’t know what kind of clutter interfered. Here are some possibilities:
- Your communication was lost in the ether and was not received
- The person you sent it to is truly busy and opened it but couldn’t respond
- The person doesn’t have the answer to your question and is looking for it/thinking about it
- The person is mad at you
- The person though s/he responded but didn’t press send or sent it to someone else
- The person was confused by what you said and is still trying to figure it out
- The person is scared to respond to you
- The person’s phone or computer is broken so your message went through but s/he didn’t get it
- The person is traveling and didn’t receive it
- The person is planning a surprise for you and doesn’t want to give it away
10 possible and valid non-woo woo reasons why the person didn’t respond yet. How long does it take before you start to freak out and interpret terrible reasons why you haven’t heard back? My natural impatient self is about 10 mins, but I try to wait at least 90 mins before allowing myself to get verklempt (upset in Yiddish).
We never know what clutter may have caused the silence, but taking it personally is uninformed and dangerous.
Here’s what NOT to do when you don’t hear back:
- Make it about you
- Get angry
You might be right. It might indeed be about you. But it also might not be. There’s a 50/50 chance.
So when you don’t hear back, do this instead:
- Give it time- 90 minutes to a week depending on what’s appropriate before following up
- Reply to the email or copy the text and paste it and Give the benefit of the doubt and ask if the person received your communication
Patience. Curiosity. Follow-up.
These are perhaps the 3 most powerful keys in clutter-free communication.
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