Waiting-for-emailCall me old-fashioned, but I like receiving a response when I communicate, unless I say, “No need to reply.”  And, from a number of recent conversations, I know I’m not the only one with a preference for closing the communication loop.

There are many possible explanations for the rise in non-responses.  Some blame younger generations for the increasing de-formalization of communication, or maybe our communication pacing lags behind the rapid demands of today’s technology.  Others blame it on not caring enough to reply, or caring so much that you click “mark as unread” to buy time for a well-thought out response.  Those held messages then get pushed down by the throngs of new emails, and before you know it, your good intentions have created the appearance of not caring enough to respond.  In addition, many who write about the topic believe that fear of having to say “no” to what is being asked stops responders in their tracks.

Not responding to emails, texts or even phone calls can erode trust.  It’s a factor that determines whether you’re trustworthy and reliable.   There could be very real consequences to not responding.  You may be burning a bridge that you’ll need to cross someday.

Here’s another good reason to respond.  If you’re looking to stand out in the crowd, replying could be one of the easiest ways to build a desired relationship with a client, co-worker or someone you report to.  I often find people are surprised, and grateful for even a courtesy response.

So speaking for all of us who hang in the balance waiting for you to reply, if I call you, please call me back.  If I text you, please reply.  If I write to you, please respond.  You can make it simple.  Write “K” – the letter K – or “Got it,” or “Need to think about it,” or “Thanks,” or “Will get back to you later.”   If you freeze in the face of saying “no,” check out these 21 ways to say no and save face.

When I hear from you, I breathe a sigh of relief knowing my message has arrived at its intended destination.  It adds to my peace of mind.  As the sender, hearing back from the receiver is the best way I have of affirming that my communication to you — phone call, text, email, physical letter —  isn’t lost in cyber space.

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