On a regular basis, I get hit with complaints that I didn’t respond to a message. “I left a message with you 10 minutes ago. Why haven’t your replied?” I get hit with this in all sincerity and, sometimes, with angry vigor. Another colleague was lamenting to me that they’d sent several emails and left several voicemails that morning and were ANGRY that the hadn’t heard back. She was a bit taken back when I pointed out that this person has 100s of clients and is extremely over-worked, and that I was certain there was no insult meant by her less-timely response.
I think that this stems from our always-on world. Email, texts, etc, come fast; we have nearly instantaneous communication. We get answers from Google/Bing instantly. We are accustomed to immediate response. So, waiting even several minutes feels unreasonable.
I notice, though, that when people are drawn out of themselves, raising their focus, they easily see the bigger picture. They see that I really can’t respond instantly to each of the 100 some odd emails I get in a day. And that taking some time to respond isn’t disrespectful.
Perhaps we need to just slow down. Perhaps we can. Perhaps….