I’ve noticed a weird trend with people lately. If I reach out to them and they don’t respond immediately, they always say to me, “sorry for the delayed response.” Even my best friends will respond like this when I sent a “what uppp” text at 9pm. Clearly, I was just thinking about them and reaching out and their response wasn’t time sensitive.
So many of us have become self imposed deadline and response monsters. People in general and nearly everything can wait. Mostly all career fields are not life and death situations. But I get it, I so get it. We have all collectively created a culture where immediate response is King and everything does feel like life or death. I previously had a boss who once snarkily asked me when I was planning on getting back to a client email that had come in. I of course immediately panicked – how long had the email been sitting in my inbox? 10 minutes, 30 minutes? Oh the horror, an hour!? The email had come in at 10:40am so I checked the time on my computer and it was… 10:40am. Seriously? The expectation you have set up for your team and the client is that you need to read an email, synthesize it, create a response and formulate a client appropriate email back, all within or less than a minute? This standard is impossible to maintain and causes a continuous stop and start, reactionary culture. No one can ever truly focus on anything and everyone is tethered to their email at all times.
I think we can all challenge this reactionary culture and respond to people in a reasonable time frame that works for us within our already busy schedules. You can also curb this trend by “training” others and take a stand against participating in the “emergency! question in the email subject line, red arrow alert” culture. There are exceptions of course, but overall, push back on these types of people. Don’t be one of those people that an email, text or call goes forever un-returned but, don’t feel pressure to get lulled by every ping and buzz. It’s distracting and creates an unhealthy expectation of 24 hour accessibility and response rates. It’s far better for our work and personal lives to live in a proactive rather than reactive state.
What are some ways you can start to curb your reactionary behavior today?
Photo Credit: Montauk Sunset, Katie McCann