What a late reply says of you and why it is always late unless it's 'now'.

There are 4 replies in this Thread. The last Post () by EJLarson.

  • This interesting article by Julie Beck on The Atlantic, titled How It Became Normal to Ignore Texts and Emails, is an exhaustive description of what digital communications are demanding right now: immediateness.

    Though messaging was initially an asynchronous communication method, nowadays you are supposed to reply instantly or you will be inevitably late and - worse - you could show lack of interest or respect for the other party.

    Being a remote worker, I know that emails are expected to be answered immediately and that that sending an email is considered as calling over the phone or entering your store. The longer the wait, the higher the chances that your customer will walk out / hang up on you and take their business elsewhere.

    Revising my spam inbox daily and multiple times a day should be part of my routine. Unfortunately, it is not and I have just found an inquiry from a prospect dated April 4th.

    Another example of the consequences of my lack of immediateness comes from a Yahoo! mailing list I am a member of, where someone was interested in my services. Back then, I received just a daily digest of that mailing list to avoid being notified every 5 minutes or so about new messages, so by the time I replied (6 hours later) the job was already gone to someone else because it was 'urgent' (what is not urgent, nowadays?) Of course, the prospect could have googled my name, found my website and contacted me through that channel. But, why bother when they could simply email someone else already in their contact list?

    Pressure and anxiety are two common consequences of this new way to work and interact on digital media. And being glued to the screen is often a professional duty and not a personal choice.

  • serafina

    Changed the title of the thread from “What a late reply tell of yourself and why it is always late unless it's 'now'.” to “What a late reply says of you and why it is always late unless it's 'now'.”.
  • This is a topic that should be considered in our personal contacts, not just business contacts. Not replying in some kind of timely manner is generally just rude.

    Telephone communication once put on the caller, the responsibility of reaching someone else. Then voicemail shifted that burden to the recipient of the message. Cell phones raised the stakes by making it possible for us to be attached 24/7, and raised the expectation that we owed it to the world, to be available 24/7.

    We all grew tired of that novelty, and, not wanting to have to be immediately available ALL the time, we started glancing at caller ID and selectively ignoring.

    Then came texts, which increased the urgency and expectation. Some 10 years ago, someone I know made the blanket pronouncement that she received so many emails, we would all have to text her if we wanted her to notice -- and she assured us that she answered all texts immediately. Now that texts are Old Hat, she very often doesn't reply at all, or does so with a monosyllabic response. (Oddly, she finds it offensive and dismissive when someone else responds with an emoji. In my book, equally dismissive.)

    For me, emails have become what letters used to be: something we answer sooner if they are short, later if they contain multiple subjects that deserve more thought and a longer response. So I'm sometimes guilty of not replying right away. But I do remember that I owe a response, and feel guilty when I wait too long.

    Still, friends understand. Business contacts do not. Business emails not answered immediately result in lost business, just like business phone calls and texts. Harsh but true.

  • Very thoughtful post. The acceleration of change in our daily lives makes it impossible to set, or live by, rules that last longer than flower arrangements. What should etiquette and protocols be for communication channels that didn’t exist five years ago? And why should we worry, because in five years they’ll be gone, replaced by something else.

    It seems that permanency is another one of those quaint old concepts we’ve jettisoned in the last decade or so as being an unnecessary hindrance in our lives of constant flux. Maybe the old saying, “Nothing lasts forever” is now “Nothing lasts a week.”