Communication breakdown.....(sorry, not sorry - this still bothers me)

Imagine if you contacted the customer service department of a company for support regarding one of their products, or reached out to a contractor to get a quote on some work you need done to your home and the agent chose to ignore, or simply delete the message. How would you feel? My guess is that you wouldn't be very happy. But many of us don't think twice about ignoring messages we receive daily requesting our services, that necessary files be sent, etc....

I recently saw a Facebook post of a meme that listed several things that one has to eventually accept and get over. At the top of that list was “No reply is a reply”.  Technically speaking, I guess that’s true. However, it doesn’t make it right. Honestly, I’ve never liked this idea, or understood how it has somehow become a thing, because I believe in not replying, it says more about the recipient of the inquiry than it does about the sender. It’s nothing more than an attempt to send a message (through silence) that their time - and they as a person – are more important than you

It’s not like emailing the president of the U.S., or the CEO of a large corporation and expecting a reply. Although, I’m sure if it were a moving story, or something that adversely affected the reputation of said company, they just might respond. I’m referring to the times we reach out to people within the field of our career, with specificity in the request. Truth be told, I have received direct replies to inquiries from the heads of major booking and management agencies, record labels, and several well-known folk music artists in regard to working together in some capacity. One artist replied to me personally and told me that even though his show would be “an evening with” (requiring no opening act), he was glad I reached out to him, how much he enjoyed my songwriting upon visiting my website, and congratulated me for all of the good things happening with my career. You see, even when the answer is “no”, it’s better than “no reply”.    

As someone who books their own live dates, it is important to receive a reply, even if it is something as brief, direct, and simple as “Not interested”, “sorry, that date is filled”, or “We’re no longer hosting live music at this time.” There’s often time sensitivity involved in much of this work, so timely responses are critical in finding a venue for routing from one date to the next, details regarding compensation, confirmation of dates, promotion, etc…. Because what usually happens when someone finally does reply - often weeks later - the date, opportunity, or offer is no longer available. 

Listen – I’m not suggesting that you answer EVERY single email or message you receive. Use discretion. Do NOT click on the link in the email from the Nigerian king who wants to deposit 2 million dollars into your bank account. We all have some level of feeling barraged with messages, of being buried by our workload, or feeling as if we don’t have enough time to get everything done. Some folks can handle more than others, some people are better at multi-tasking, some get overwhelmed much easier. If that’s the case, maybe it’s time to ask for help, or hire an assistant? Sometimes people “check out” from social media and the internet for several days, or have something that requires all of their attention going on in their personal life. Let the person know that apologetically when you reply, or set up an “out of office” auto reply that informs the sender of that information. A lack of - or even worse – an intentional refusal to communicate with someone who has taken time out of their day is disrespectful to both that person and their time. 

Try this little experiment; set a timer and type the words “Sorry, I am unable to assist you at this time”, or “Let me check my calendar and get back to you shortly”. How long did that take? Seriously?  Even a “hunt & peck" typist such as myself can type that response in 30 seconds and no more than a minute, and it doesn’t need to be immediate. After your email provider sends that auto reply message, get back to the person within an acceptable time frame of 24-48 hours. The fact is – at least you replied!!!. By not answering at all - and doing so intentionally – you come across as self-centered, self-important, a bit childish, and egotistical. 

And guess what? No one is important enough to make someone else feel less important.