Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
It felt risky. I wasn’t sure I should say it. I wondered if it would change things, make things weird.
I wordsmithed it cautiously, copied it to Gmail, and hit send.
You, too? Waiting to hear back from someone about something?
Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not always good about responding either.
But that doesn’t mean I couldn’t be better. Or that you couldn’t be either.
We all should write back.
(Or text or message or call or visit . . . .)
Because we all know what it feels like when someone doesn’t get back to us.
- When you make yourself vulnerable but are left hanging, you question if you said too much.
- When you throw out a tiny bait but get no bite at all, you wonder who cares.
- When you ask a question but get no answer, you feel insulted.
At the very least, you feel unheard. Did they even get my message? Maybe my email bounced? Was my voicemail deleted?
So what can we do when someone doesn’t respond to us? Not much. We can’t make someone pay attention. Try again if it’s important. Or forgive and move on.
But we can control how we respond to others.
Be the one to reach back.
You might not heal the hurt or dispense wisdom or fix any problems with your reply. But when you affirm that you hear, you stay connected.
- When someone sends you a note, acknowledge its receipt.
- When someone asks a question, give an answer (“I don’t know” is acceptable; so is, “I’ll answer later.”)
- When someone says, “I need help,” say that you care (if you do), even if you don’t know what to do next.
Because any acknowledgement, however short, is a better message than the one sent with no response.
So say something.
Hey, I hear you. I care. You matter.
* * *
Who do you need to respond to today?
It’s not too late. It can be short, but let it be something.