Let’s say you interviewed for a job or you are collaborating with someone on a project. You meet, you hit it off, and you end the meeting with the other person saying they will get back to you by a certain period time. You say “Ok sounds great,” and you part.
Now you are waiting, and you hate waiting, but you understand that the other person is busy, so you continue to wait. After all the designated time in which they said they would communicate by hasn’t arrived yet. Matter of fact it’s only been one day. You know you need to chill out but you can’t help it because you are so flippin’ excited for the possibility of what could come.
Then it happens. The designated time passes and you hear nothing. Not a single word. But you don’t sweat it because, again, you know they are busy and things happen so you just keep waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting, until you’ve gone from excited, to worried, to annoyed, to pissed off, and finally you begin to wonder if maybe it was all in your head and the meeting wasn’t as great as you thought it was.So you decided to shoot them an email or give them a call to “see how things are going”. But they either don’t respond or they respond with a vague reply that does nothing to alleviate your pain and you are so close to losing it that you express to everyone (even that poor barista) just how frustrated you are with the whole stupid situation. But then you calm yourself down and decide to give it a few days before contacting the person again in hopes of getting a more concrete answer. You ask yourself just how many times you can call/email a person before they really hate you? Finally, after who knows how many times, you get an answer that says “Oh yeah we filled that position some time ago” or “Yeah I got really busy so…” or “I found something better so I decided not to do it” (yes that is a legit response I was sent). You then proceed to smash whatever digital device you have in your hand into tiny microbial bits so that Sherlock could not even decipher what it used to be. Here’s the thing: we’ve all been on both sides of this in which we’ve wished someone had communicated more or in which we probably could have done more communicating. Sometimes when we are on the side of the communicator we forget what it is like to be the person waiting to hear back. Nobody can see what the other side is doing and even if we become busy and are just swamped, it doesn’t mean that the other person knows that. And even if they do know that, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stop for a moment to acknowledge that they are waiting. So if you say you we’re going to do something by a certain time and it’s not done, communicate that. If something is taking longer than you expect, communicate that. If the person reaches out to you and you realize that you have not been communicating: respond promptly, apologize, don’t make excuses, and assure them that you are working on it. Even if things don’t work out in the end, you will have left a better taste in their mouth, knowing that you were open and honest in your communication with them.