https://www.bonnielowkramen.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Radio-Silence.jpg 631 1241 Bonnie Low-Kramen /wp-content/uploads/2020/08/bonnie-low-logo.png Bonnie Low-Kramen2020-08-11 00:09:082022-01-12 13:05:13What’s Really Up with Radio Silence? Is it ever OK?
By Bonnie Low-Kramen | August 11, 2020
True confession. I admit it that radio silence annoys me. There. I said it. (Note: To get along with Bonnie Low-Kramen, don’t ignore her.) What I also have to admit, though, is that I’ve done it too. If you are human, so have you.
Have you ever been in an email correspondence with someone and it just stops with no explanation? Or, you are looking for new work and in communication with recruiters, you suddenly get the silent treatment? If you answered yes, then you know how radio silence feels, otherwise known as ghosting.
The feelings are ones of being ignored and forgotten, which in most cases, are bad feelings and ones that do not promote great relationships. Plus…people remember when you ghost them, don’t we?
However, there are some situations when the reality is different than what it seems. Let’s take a closer look at both.
The given is that most of us are overwhelmed and find it challenging to keep up the demands of the day to day of life and work. We are juggling and busy doing real-time triage on our priorities, and in no way mean to intentionally hurt feelings.
So, when we spend time cultivating relationships and working on meaningful connections, the one thing I know for sure is, to not respond to someone is not something you want to do. Experience teaches us that 9 times out of 10, the radio silence is not about you at all. Rather, it is about the other person’s lack of time, focused attention, and consciousness, which hopefully, is temporary.
The pandemic has put added pressure on our precious 24 hours of each day and it is showing in all kinds of ways.
The bottom line is that it does not feel good to have a promising conversation, or open a door or expect information that we need, only to have the person we spoke to turn into a ghost and go radio silent.
Here are 5 tips for understanding and handling ghosts.
- Don’t take it personally. Try hard.
It’s not about you. It’s about them, even if it is your executive. Our imaginations can do crazy things and are usually (in my experience, always) worse than the reality. Your mind may start to search for the hidden meanings in the behavior. Train yourself to assume the best as your default. When someone goes radio silent in business, it can be challenging to reboot the conversation simply because we’re not certain what is really going on, we don’t want to make the situation worse. Remove emotion and stick with the facts to restart the conversation.
- You can say, “not too sure what happened, but I would like to set a time to re-connect?”
- Always offer a choice of date, time and channels of communication.
- When in doubt, ask directly about preference on communication. Do they prefer email over texting over the phone? It is respectful to ask and comply, because essentially, they are telling you the best way to get an answer.
- Sometimes technology really is the culprit
My BTUA students often hear me say that technology simply cannot be trusted 100% and the sooner we embrace that notion, the better. Anyone who has experienced a computer crash or a cell phone that dies in a swimming pool mishap or an email that mysteriously never made it to the recipient or has had their email hacked, can relate to this.
- And sometimes it really is overwhelming
I was speaking on a webinar panel with the recruiters from Joss Search, based in London. We were discussing how one of the things that make candidates crazy is when recruiters go silent. I asked, “About how many emails do you receive each day?” The shocking answer, “3,000.” I wasn’t alone in feeling horrified by this. It becomes very easy to understand why a person cannot be very responsive when their Inbox looks like that. Everyone listening got a big dose of empathy that day. I sure did.
- Briefly. Just say thanks but no thanks
What I have found is that people have a hard time saying “no” and others have a hard time hearing “no.” Do it anyway. If someone asks me for something that I can’t help with, I respond with a cordial, “Thank you for letting me know about XYZ. It is an interesting idea but unfortunately, I won’t be able to do it. I wish you well. All the best, Me” Inevitably, I receive a note back saying, “Thanks for getting back to me and letting me know.” The relationship remains just fine.
- The 3-Strikes Rule
At the Be the Ultimate Assistant training, I teach the 3-Strikes Rule of communication. What I learned from my hacking experience is that all methods of communication have their limitations and flaws. Here’s how it goes.
Strike 1 – Send an email with a clear subject line. No response.
Strike 2 – Resend the email with the word “Resend” in the subject line. No response.
Strike 3 – Change the channel. Send a text message or pick up the phone and call the person.
No one wants to be a haunt, but if it is your job to get an answer, then you have no choice. Striking out is not an option.
The most important quality we possess is our integrity. The most successful assistants take responsibility for their own behavior and the impact they have on others. How they manage their own overwhelm as they navigate others is a key to being ultimate.
I am Bonnie Low-Kramen, TEDx speaker, author of “Be the Ultimate Assistant” and trainer of Executive Assistants all over the world. In May, 2019, I was featured in a Forbes online cover story. As part of the research for my second book about the workplace to be published in 2022, I have had over 1,000 conversations with assistants, leaders, HR professionals, recruiters, and business school professors. I have worked in 14 countries and 38 states and would love to work with you towards building your ultimate workplace. Click here to set up a time to speak with me about your training needs which can be delivered virtually or in person.