These days, “ghosting” (not responding on text or email) is “normal.”
But let’s be real:
Just because it’s normal doesn’t mean it’s good.
In both personal and business realms — ghosting, not responding in a timely way, and even short-answer emails flung in hasty taps — can and (most likely) will come back to bite you.
Email responses matter.
We’re all busy.
We’re all juggling.
We all have a bazillion emails in the inbox.
And we all have that one person we’d rather not engage with, just waiting in the inbox.
I agree: It’s easier to not respond.
*(or to respond with a one-liner)
Let’s put Truth into the universe:
Ghosting (whether intentional or unintentional) — or responding with a couple of quick lines — has consequences. (And they’re not positive.)
Here are five reasons why good (intentionally crafted) email responses matter.
1. A timely response says, “You matter.”
Not answering an email is the equivalent of blowing someone off.
As in, whatever. I have better things to do.
It’s the same as if you (or I) were standing in a room full of people, and you waved across the room at someone you knew — and they simply turned and walked the other way.
(Just because we can’t see the person on the other end of the email doesn’t mean they can’t feel the rejection of the non-response.)
When we wait to respond… and the gap gets bigger and bigger — here’s something that happens with that kind of time, too.
The longer we wait to respond, the more the empty space between communication can (and will) muddle (relational) progress, slow (business) momentum, and damage a personal or professional relationship.
Those who “put themself out there” in email are waiting for responses. No matter what you or I think or say, the wait is personal.
(We’re human. It’s always personal.)
Accept the wave from across the room and let the sender be seen, even if it’s simply to say, “Hey, I see you — let’s chat later when I have a chance.”
2. Responding says, “I care about the situation.”
Emails often voice concerns. A well-thought-out response says, “I care about this concern.”
One liners don’t show care. And ghosting shows the least care of all. Ghosting and short answers say, “You’re not worth my time.”
Sure, one- or two-liners are convenient. Easy. Maybe “all you have time for.” But convenience on your end translates into “don’t care” on their end.
Years ago, while teaching a Professional and Graduate Studies Communications course at university, I challenged the students (who were working adults):
This week, respond to emails in a timely way, and use the following “1-2-3 Format”:
First, be sure to greet the person. Before jumping into the body of the email (why you’re writing), besides the personal touch of using/writing their name, give a short and “warm fuzzy door opener” — something genuine and positive showing gratefulness for their skills and personhood. Make it simple and direct, not overdone, gushy, or out of character…and do make it true and sincere.
Second, be clear on what you’d like to happen — without judgment. Get to the point, and when doing so, don’t criticize or put in any value-based information regarding the situation or the person. Separate the issue from the individual.
Third, end with appreciation. Again, don’t be overly sentimental or use hyperbole. Just be honest about what you appreciate.
Then, after writing your emails, report back to me.
The result was a class full of incredulous adults who had been thanked by co-workers, praised by superiors, and even touted as examples of great communication to an entire unit of a worldwide pharmaceutical company.
(Try it with your emails this week. I dare you.)
Emails can show that you care about the situation (or don’t).
3. Responding can increase the positives of what others think about you…
It’s true: based on interactions, we make judgments regarding others. All of us do this.
Every time we speak, walk, and write, people judge us. It’s a human thing.
Now you or I might say that we don’t care what other people think. (Right.) And we’ll say, people are going to judge us anyway (which they do) — so why care?
You’re right. People judge us, incorrectly — all the time. (It stinks.) But isn’t that judgment all the reason for us to do what we can, to show the true (and better) version of who we are?
And if others continue to judge, that’s on them. Haters gonna hate. (Let’s let it go.)
What about judging your business via emails? Is that a thing?
Whether you’re an author/writer/editor, company owner, or any kind of thought leader — you are a 24/7 walking representation not just of who you are but also of what you do. Your product, your company, your essence oozes from each communication moment (how you come across to others).
Okay, that’s scary.
Our demeanor, our answers, our attention to details, and (yes) our emails tell our employees, constituents, clients, coworkers, and community who we are, what we really care about (is it them?), and if the company (and we, ourselves) are worth their time.
Make your communication — even in email — worth their time.
4. It’s about (building) relationships.
Here are two critical truths about being human:
1. All communication is about building up or tearing down relationships. Communication doesn’t balance; it tips and leans, one way or the other.
With relationships, there’s no such thing as status quo.
So all that we do — including with emails — is about tipping the scale to better relationships or worse.
We get to choose.
2. We are communicating at all times. Whether we like it or not, every. single. thing. that we do influences and reaches out to others.
Like red paint on a brush, our spoken words, body language, facial expressions, tone of voice, and — yes — emails are all communicating to others in one continuous line of red paint.
What do you want your communication to say?
5. It’s not hard.
People know: email writing is not hard.
So when you and I don’t respond, the message is clear: deep down in reality land, we don’t care enough to take seconds to say, Got your message — will respond as soon as I’m able.
We’re throwing away a chance to say “you matter to me, ” to show we care, to grow relationships and build up what others think of us and our business. We’re tossing free “goodness” and positiver results out the window.
Why would we do that to ourselves?
Lest you think I’m simply an over-simplifying romantic or woo-woo Kumbaya singer…
This approach to email isn’t some ooey-gooey, everybody hug it out suggestion. It’s psychology, human behavior, emotional intelligence, and plain ol’ effective leadership.
Try the 1-2-3 email. At the very least, tap a quick, “Thanks for reaching out — got your email — will respond within 24!” And then respond.
Impressions depend on it.
Reputation depends on it.
Clarity and results depend on it.
Like it or not, putting more into email matters… and is worth it.
All the best,