After six hours on what felt like the longest plane ride of my life, I had plenty of time to sit with my thoughts. I thought about many potential blog post ideas and in my thinking, I realized that there are some common courtesies that, when undone, can detract from our happiness quite easily. For example, do you ever leave a comment on your friend’s Facebook page, only to get no response? I’m not trying to be passive aggressive, but it makes you wonder what warranted the cold shoulder. Or what about an IM conversation and then suddenly, the person signs off for no reason? Sure, 90% of the time there is probably a good reason why the person left the conversation, but you don’t know that sitting on the other side of the computer screen.
So I’m focusing today on issues of correspondence; how we can be more polite, friendly, and focused on our conversations and the people that we’re having them with, because, let’s face it, technology leaves a lot to the imagination. While I believe human contact is always preferable, sometimes texts, tweets, and typed emails are the only way to communicate with each other—so how do we do it right?
1. Respond back: If someone leaves you a Facebook comment, especially if it’s from a person that you haven’t heard from in a while, write them back! A good grace period is about 48 hours, but it’s never too late.
2. Apologize for tardiness: If you forgot, got too busy, or had to feed your baby monkey (aka whatever your excuse is), say sorry for your slow uptake. People will appreciate that you still considered them in your busy day.
3. It’s never too early: Everything is instant. It’s not too weird if you respond back immediately. Okay, you can maybe wait a minute but chances are that if you walk away from a read message, you’ll have a much later response than you would have otherwise.
4. Just do it: If you’re going to read your messages, be prepared to respond, right then and there. Otherwise, you’ll probably forget about the message and as weeks go by, it will be more and more awkward when you do finally respond.
5. Start it first: You don’t have to always be the responder. Take a risk and be the initiator—sometimes it can be nerve-wracking to say hi to a friend that you haven’t spoken to in years. But if they don’t respond, then they’re not worth your time anyway.
So I hope you’ll be the friend that is fast. Don’t leave your family, co-workers, or pals on the line—no one likes to be left hanging.