Whether you are seeking an appointment, an opportunity to make a sales pitch, a job interview or even a date, our life is filled with requests that are not just denied, they are ignored. As I hear my friend Dara Hosey call it, “The Big Ig.” And it gets even bigger if multiple requests are ignored.
I have a number of friends who refer to this silence of unanswered requests as “crickets,” referring, of course, to the suggestion that when they listen for a response it is so quiet all they can hear are the crickets in the woods. They may say, “I sent the material two weeks ago and followed up by email but all I got was crickets.”
We’ve all gotten The Big Ig. And we’ve all given it. Sometimes it is intentional, sometimes it is just a sign of the overwhelming pace of life and bombardment of messages we all receive each day.
I believe most of us don’t even take it very personal to get The Big Ig, at least not as personal as it used to be. Is this a sign of professional and social breakdowns? Perhaps a little but I say it is more just acceptance that the flurry of messages and requests on all of us has made it impossible to respond to everyone.
We’ve even learned to accept The Big Ig as an answer. I know several people that use the three strikes rule. If they reach out to someone three times with no response, they take the lack of response as a semi-formal “not interested.”
Sometimes we earn The Big Ig by making bad requests of others. I get voice-mails that are unsolicited, do not address any problem I have, may not fit our work, and seem to really just be a salesperson randomly fishing for chances. No matter how polite, if there is no engagement or value, I admit don’t return all those calls. The Big Ig is my answer to them.
Some people ignore others because they are uncomfortable saying, “No.” So they ignore someone hoping they will eventually give up and go away. Usually this works but it sure wastes everyone’s time and energy. A non-aggressive, appropriately assertive “No” can streamline your life and your projects.
I work hard to be professional and courteous to others. I don’t like to ignore requests, as you never know where many of them may lead. At the same time, if I’ve established my appropriate personal and professional boundaries, I reserve the right to remain focused on my personal priorities in life and business. In this day, it is too easy for the demands of others to consume you.
I admit that at times I’ve been guilty of giving the Big Ig when it was never my intention. Perhaps I’ve let a hectic week or poor focus get the best of me. At that point, the best I can do is offer a sincere apology and work to do better.
If you are frequently ignored, look harder to see if your messages have real and clear value and not just value to you and your business. And in responding to others, have appropriate and healthy boundaries without being a pompous jerk. And the next time someone gives you the Big Ig, use it as a reminder to check your own habits and behavior. Even though many are ignoring you, there are also many that are watching and remembering.
Glenn S. Phillips is the author of Nerd-to-English: Your Everyday Guide to Translating Your Business, Your Messages, and Yourself. His website,www.nerdtoenglish.com, will lead you to more information about effective communication training, risk assessments and genuinely helpful tips. You can email Glenn directly at email@example.com.
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