What if we had only three ways to communicate with each other?
· Writing a letter and sending it via the United States Postal Service to a business or residence
· In-person visit at home or at work
· Calling a business or residence on a land line telephone
In the first three decades of my life, these were the only methods of “getting a hold” of someone. And they were effective because each method nearly always elicited a response.
Today, we can reach someone instantly. Multiple applications provide a direct pipeline to your mobile device, tablet or personal computer. Besides email and texting, we’ve got Uber Conferencing (they have a great hold song if you haven't heard it), Facetime, Skype, Slack, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, SnapChat, and LinkedIn. Leaving a voicemail is almost shocking to the system (it requires a lot of energy and time to hit “play”). An article in Psychology Today cites that inboxes are one of the most common triggers to social anxiety and productivity-related anxiety.
It’s easy to see why we all want to run from the mayhem.
Hiding in Plain Sight
There’s no place to hide, so we’ve become creative to avoid being reached. We hide in plain sight.
Phone numbers and physical addresses of business are disappearing from websites and business cards. Instead, we leave a note and send it off into the web abyss and cross our fingers that it will reach the right person AND they will be kind enough to respond.
When a phone number we don't recognize pops up, we watch our phones do the dance. We need “approval” from someone to connect on LinkedIn and other social platforms and, oftentimes, contact information is buried or nonexistent on profiles.
But the No. 1 way we hide is by ignoring the call, text, letter, email, IM, social request, etc. altogether. We simply do not respond. That fact has nothing to do with technology. That fact has to do with people making a choice.
While we haven't done a formal survey on this, we sure have heard people talk about this phenomenon that, with all the ways in which we can communicate, it is getting harder and harder to elicit a response. Is that the story a company wants to convey? How is responsiveness a reflection of a company’s brand?
What are some of your experiences with unresponsive responses?