Reply All?

Reply All?

"This guy is jobless. "Har email ka jawab deta hai."

When emails were new to our world, it was so exciting that some of us responded to every email.

A couple of our bosses would send "ok" and "noted" responses to every email. In a nutshell, every email had to end with their response. We were so dismissive of their perfection to respond. Fast forward to today, and with more accessible tools, has that gotten better? 

I guess not; the reasons may be plenty, but we all get found out thanks to the multiple tools and social media. 

Whether it's WhatsApp, Gmail Spaces, Emails, LinkedIn, FB, or Insta, we all have our patterns of responses, and it's difficult not to judge each other based on how selectively we react/respond quantitatively or qualitatively. 

Have you observed that for some of your friends/peers/reportees, we tend to respond immediately, and for a few others, you reply/respond only when you are left with no choice? Is there a better way to invoke responses from people? Have you observed some of us put in messages addressed to an individual in a group setting, just because their individual spaces have either reached a dead end, or they need the collective space to evoke a response?

In our business (relationship compounding world), the external world (clients, candidates, vendors, investors) judges and reward/punish us continuously on our ability/speed to respond. The speed and quality of responses decide our impact on the external world. For me, responding is like muscle memory; the more selective it becomes, the more biased/lazy/disinterested we sound to the people who reach out to us!

I have a terrible habit of spying on my team; whenever anybody new joins our leadership team, After a week or so, I end up asking, "How many of my leaders sent you a welcome email or text or reached out for a coffee or offered lunch"? Sometimes it validates what I presume is our collective behaviour in reaching out, and sometimes, it surprises me! So nowadays, when I induct new members, I give them a rundown on who all are my highly responsive colleagues and the "busy" people so that my "no responsive colleagues" don't get judged by the new colleagues easily.

Some of us glorify our apathy as 

  • You know me, I hate emails
  • I am busy; I don't have time for all these formalities. If it is that urgent, you should have called me!
  • Do you know how many emails I get every day? Hello🙈
  • S/he doesn't respond to my emails immediately; why should I now?

Some of us respond to some of the messages/emails much after the need for response has gone by. Some surveys and employee questionnaires might even need some school principal-like threatening before they get attended to.

When we don't point this out, it becomes a culture of the organisation. We have often been guilty of allowing the individual's preferred way of responding to certain situations. Some of us are so distracted by our phones during meetings and violently keep typing away as though some million-dollar client has asked to respond right away. But when it comes to some very important messages/emails, it takes nudges/threats for them to come around to respond. 

Some of us even knock off the blue tick✔ on WhatsApp as insurance for not being found out. I keep arguing with my daughter about this blue tick all the time! Why do we need to hide under these while our patterns are already known to people who know us?

So, let's take some time out today to tell some of our colleagues how them not responding selectively is hurting their image/experience of who they really are! Another exercise, list out the people you rather ignore or respond to at your own pace. (Past, Present..think of some faces)

Most people who are/were upset with me in my personal or professional life are due to one-off or multiple instances of ignoring them. I intend to tell them it was not intentional or I was busy at that time. But, for some reason, they don't buy it. I guess by now, they have studied my patterns!

The experience vs expectations is a big gap to fill in?

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