Your Silence Is Deafening

It used to be common courtesy to return a phone call or respond to an email or text. Not so any more. These days people hide behind voicemail and seem to ignore emails. So, what's so tough about responding? 

In order to understand what's happening we have to broaden our view and look at the whole landscape. Think about how many times you are solicited during a day, a week, a month. How do you like it? Chances are, you don't. The 'do-not-call list' was born from people sick of solicitation calls. 'Let it go to voicemail' as become a standard thought. Unfortunately, these people can implement a blanket policy to every scenario. They treat every call, text, email as an invasion and get into the habit of not answering and not responding.

At the same time there are people who are conflict avoidant. They don't feel comfortable telling someone 'no' so they avoid the whole conversation. Maybe they feel like the person is going to try to strong arm them, bully them, into an answer they want. 

And then there are the people who are so busy they don't carve out the time to respond to a call, text, or email. While they may have every intention of responding their days get away from them and before they know it, it feels like it's too late, or they just forget all together. This behavior is rarely interpreted as well-intentioned. It is seen as disorganized and unprofessional.

Any one of these behaviors can lead to being seen as rude, discourteous, or evasive. So, what can we do about it? Let's start with how we want to be perceived. If we want to be seen as professional, approachable, and organized we need to make some clear decisions about how we are going to handle the unsolicited outreach.

The first thing is to realize that addressing a call, email, text right away actually makes things better. It prevents the person from continuing to try to get ahold of you. It eliminates any discomfort you may be feeling; that discomfort becomes temporary as opposed to long term. And it keeps you upholding your obligations in a timely manner so you are seen as responsive and professional.

The second thing to embrace is that if your issue is with salespeople, 'no' is a good answer. Believe me when I tell you that they would rather get a 'no' than have to keep trying to get in touch with you to find out where you are. And most of them aren't going to assume your answer is 'no' so they are going to keep reaching out. That doesn't feel so great, either, does it? So why not minimize the number of times someone is calling you for something you don't want?

And in the rare occasion when someone is overly persistent you can be firm with them. That's okay too! They've just given you permission to tell them in strong terms that you are not interested.

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