05 Nov 2019

You’ve got mail…now respond!

In the good old days of the letter, it was considered rude not to respond to one. We all have heard of stories about how great leaders not only read every letter that came their way but made it a point to ensure that they or their staff responded to them.  But thanks to the world of free communications, this etiquette is fast becoming extinct.

When I joined the business world, I was taught that every correspondence (whatever medium) needs to be responded to within 24 hours of receiving it. These days it seems even 72 hours are not good enough!

“Hey! That’s interesting…”

Increasingly, not responding to (ignoring is more like it) someone’s email is considered acceptable. In the last few years, I have had so many conversations with people who say, “Hey! That’s interesting, why don’t you email me more information and we will talk further”.  Sure enough, once I have sent the communication there is radio silence at the other end. Forget acknowledging the email, you don’t even get a reply to your follow-up mails.

A disturbing trend

With the plethora of communication media available today, you’d expect people to choose a medium that they could respond on quickly or more conveniently! While some of the newer mediums (like Whatsapp) fall, according to me, outside the professional realm, I am still willing to continue a conversation in the said medium. And yet, a conversation is initiated and then… Silence. The same non-responsiveness. Consistently. Across media! This is professional ghosting!

I find this whole trend disturbing.

The least respect someone can accord you is by replying “Thank you for the information and I will get back to you”, Or just say, “Not interested!” but don’t keep me hanging! Maybe you are busier than I thought!


What is ailing the corporate world? Why is everyone so hesitant to close the loop? Has “Don’t respond to emails!” been introduced as one of the KPIs? Or is it the Cheap Thrill (CT) of keeping others on tenterhooks?

This unhealthy trend is fast percolating to the mid and the lower levels of an organisation. Communication etiquette in the business world seriously needs a shakeup. (Using bots to write polite responses doesn’t cut it).

Leaders – Wake up!

This etiquette is a collective representation of your company and reflects the organization culture. Not sure how the combined intelligentsia of the corporate world intends to remedy this plague. Everyone seems busy training employees to be better managers, innovators or team-workers. How about better communicators and brand ambassadors? Would a workshop help? I am game to host one!

But I am not sure how many will respond to this communication!