Ah, we’ve all been there with this one, haven’t we? The world has changed when it comes to follow up and basic communication skills. Maybe this is another thing we can blame on the digital revolution – we have so many ways of communicating with one another now, so we’re that much more overwhelmed with messages, interruptions, and follow ups than ever before. As a result, we don’t don’t follow up when we should, or, more frustratingly, we’re at the receiving end of that kind of behavior. People blow us off. We wait to hear about something; whether it’s winning a piece of business, a job, or a potentially special someone we’ve met. They disappear, and we don’t know what to make of it. Radio silence. And pull our hair out, trying to figure what is going on and why.
When this happens in personal relationships, our choices feel more cut and dried. There’s the conventional wisdom of knowing when a person is, “not that into you;” a concept we’ve all learned by the time we get to a certain age. You go on an awesome date with someone, or you’re in a new relationship, so you expect the other person to respond to you pretty quickly if they really like you, right? If not, and they make a habit of keeping you waiting, they’re most likely pretty ambivalent about you, so you should cut your losses and move on.
But do we do this when it comes to business? It seems like there’s a lot more gray area here, perhaps because we’re told that we shouldn’t take this kind of thing personally in business. While that’s true, is it really about taking it personally? Or is it more about self-respect and boundaries when it comes to our most precious commodity – our time?
Again, whether it’s waiting on hearing if we’ve won that coveted piece or business, or if we’re getting an offer on that job we interviewed 3, 4, 5 times for, or simply a colleague who keeps rescheduling then going dark on us, it’s a maddening situation that’s so common nowadays. If we follow up too much, we risk appearing like a stalker. If we don’t, some say we risk looking like we’re not “hungry” enough, and our more aggressive competitors will beat us out.
It’s the not knowing that drives us crazy. Conventional wisdom tells us that we simply can’t know what’s happening on the other end, how busy others are, and how there’s much, much more going on in their worlds than what they’re working on with us. But that’s the problem. It feels so simple for those we’re waiting on to say, “Hey, sorry I haven’t reached out. Feel free to circle back with me in two weeks if you don’t hear from me.” However, it simply doesn’t work that way anymore. We’re all too overwhelmed.
So all we can do is take back our own power. Forget about the radio silence people, until said people reach back out to us, if and when they ever do. At that point, it’s up to us to decide what to then do with it, whether or not we still want to pursue these opportunities.
Furthermore, in taking back our power, we need to have as many options as we can, whether it’s business leads, job leads, chances to meet that significant other, friends, etc., so we’re not in that suffering place. When we create as many opportunities for ourselves as we can, others’s responses matter that much less. So by the time they finally get around to reaching back out to us… we no longer care. Then it’s our turn to go radio silent, if we want to.
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