How long does it take to acknowledge the existence of someone you know who has reached out to you directly with a question or comment? I get that people are busy, and that we all get plenty of spam online. I also get that high-level executives feel like their very valuable time (more valuable than yours, of course) should not, under any circumstances, be wasted. I even get that sometimes a note from a friend or acquaintance slips through the cracks even when you have the best intentions to respond.
However, it all adds up to a bunch of excuses for not extending the simple, should-be-common courtesy of a response to people who make the effort to get in touch.
Reaching out to someone with a question, comment, link, or idea doesn’t always take a ton of effort, but it does mean that you have put some thought into reaching out to someone you know. While it would be wrong to expect the intended recipient of your message to drop everything and responding instantly with a dissertation, it’s equally wrong for them not to offer at least a token response.
“No, but thank you anyway.”
How hard is that to say? How much time does it take out of your life to type or say a few little words, and maintain the relationship at the most baseline level possible? Too often, high-ranking executives and the middle-managers don’t even have time for a quick “no thanks” before forgetting about the message and moving on to whatever important task is at hand. However, being non-responsive isn’t just relegated to higher-ups. We can all fall into that trap.
Now, there is often some math to factor into the equation, in the sense that people who wouldn’t take the time to respond to you under normal circumstances may decide that a quick response is worthwhile if there’s something in it for them. Your time may not be worth a response to them, but your money probably will be.
Why Common Courtesy Goes a Long Way in a Connected World
If you haven’t noticed so far, this is a bit of a pet peeve for me, but there is also a bright side if you’re willing to make some effort. Given the fact that so many people seem to struggle with the concept, a bit of common courtesy can go a very long way when building relationships with consumers, colleagues, and just about anyone else for that matter. I can’t tell you how often I’ve struck up engaging, mutually beneficial conversations with people just because we both appreciated the value of what should be basic, common courtesy.
Saying “no, thank you,” asking questions, saying “yes, please,” responding promptly, taking the time to find common ground. None of these things are too terribly difficult to do in day-to-day life, and those types of actions are the glue that holds real relationships together. All the people who don’t take the time for some basic courtesy… they just make you look better by comparison. Be nice, be human, and enjoy the many benefits that come from treating your connections with respect.
Your Brand/Business is what you do; your Reputation is what people Remember and Share.
I’ve often wondered why common courtesy as well as professional standards and behavior have fallen off the edge. Even the busiest person has someone on staff who can respond personally in a timely, polite and thoughtful manner. It makes a big difference in a world of instant, impersonal, hurried and mega operations. Here’s another little thing that makes a big difference. Please have a real person answer the phone or your own voice mail that lets the caller know that the call will be returned, if the call is from a person with a legitimate inquiry, or other valid information. Thanks, Ted.
Yes indeed Gary… not much gets under my skin as much as this lack of courtesy… and even with people they know, are connected to, and call “friend.”
Agreed… so dismissive the “this voice-mail is full” recording we all get so often.