The Nonsense of Non-Responders

Is there anything worse than being ghosted?

You may think I’m talking about life in the dating world (that drives me nuts, too), but I’m mostly bothered by how often it happens in the professional world.

I’ve talked about this before, but I’ve made it my mission to respond to virtually everyone who emails me. It sometimes takes me hours (er, days) to get through all the emails, but it’s something I’m very proud of, and something that I’ve tried to teach to everyone who works with me, for me, or who I’ve mentored to do as well.

With the number of emails we send and receive each day, it’s easy to feel like a faceless .com address and lose that personal connection — but the personal connection is what makes us better people and better business owners.

There’s an old adage, “it’s not what you know, but who you know.” And while I do believe it takes a certain amount of skill and talent to get anywhere in this world, you can never discount the power of personal connections. We used to have to pick up the phone to get things done or meet someone for a coffee or a meeting. Now more often than not, you type up a quick 150-word email, send it off, and hope that the person on the other end doesn’t ignore you. Nobody fondly remembers the person who ignores them. But people never forget the ones who get back to them. Even if it’s just a “thanks, but no thanks” email, they appreciate that they’re being treated like a human being and not just so-and-so@whatever.com.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve decided not to do business with someone because they’ve ignored my emails. And on the flip side, I can’t tell you how many times someone said to me, “You know, I really didn’t think you’d get back to me…but I am so glad you did. Let’s figure out a way we can work together.” Sometimes, just taking the time to get back to someone increased an ad buy, or if they had reached out for an unrelated reason, it made them come back to me months later with an opportunity.

Now, obviously, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between. I believe there are only three types of emails that don’t require a response.

  • An email that isn’t asking a question. This speaks for itself — no question, no answer. (I have to give the credit for that one too one of my favourite people, and HR gurus, Sari Friedman.)
  • A fake personalized email. You know the ones: Hi [user name]! Hope everything’s going well at [publication]. I was hoping you might be interested in this product/service we’re launching. (Font change so you can tell the rest is copied and pasted.)
  • Crazy/disgruntled people – sometimes despite our good intentions, there are old friends, colleagues, clients who have a beef to pick. I’ve learned that no good comes from an email pissing match. You may want the last word, but no words is truly a more powerful statement.

It can seem overwhelming to respond to every single other email…but my suggestion is this: create a whole load of different email drafts for different purposes. Create a “thanks, but no thanks” version, an “I’ll think about this” version, a “this sounds great, let me know when you have more information” version. Then just select whichever one you need and hit send. Easy peasy and everyone’s happy.

As for dating ghosters? Don’t even get me started on those…