Why Haven’t I Heard From You?

It’s 2012. Everybody has a cell phone. Everybody has an email account (or 12). Why is it so hard to get through to certain individuals?

  1. Some of us are too busy to talk. We let our calls go to voicemail and, whether we listen to them in a timely manner or not, we put off returning them.
  2. Some of us don’t check messages on our phones (cell, work, home) until we find ourselves at a good stopping point.
  3. Some of us don’t check certain email accounts on a regular basis.
  4. Some of us scroll rapidly through email inboxes and fail to identify correctly which ones are most important.
  5. Some of us respond more readily to text messages.
  6. Some of us respond more readily to Facebook messages. (Please, no Farmville.)
  7. Some of us respond more readily to Twitter direct messages.
  8. Some of us respond more readily to LinkedIn messages.
  9. Some of us respond more readily to snail mail. Seriously, sometimes receiving a communiqué via USPS makes it seem more official.

True story: A media outlet has a last-minute interview window open up on a weekend. An email is sent to a publicist, offering the opportunity to her client (and a call is made to the publicist’s office phone), but the publicist does not respond to the email until Monday. I hereby refer the publicist to my earlier post  You and I Are Always “On Call.”

True story: A professional person leaves an outgoing message on his cell phone indicating that he rarely checks messages on the phone. You might ask, “Then why even have a cell phone?” But I would say, “Thanks for telling me that you might not get to my message for a while, rather than have me think you’re ignoring me. Here comes my email.”

True story: Futile attempts to reach a client include emails and voicemail messages on her cell and office phones. A text message, however, gets an instant response.

Reba McEntire had a hit country song in 1994 called “Why Haven’t I Heard From You,” complete with an opening lyric shout out to Alexander Graham Bell. The song points out that phones are everywhere.  “You can get one in your briefcase, on a plane or in a car,” she sings. Still, the callback does not come. As the song points out, it’s not always the technology that causes these failures to communicate. Sometimes, the reason is the human factor.

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