Reading time – 2:42; Viewing time – 3:46 . . .
This has been simmering for a long time and I know I’m not alone, because I’ve checked with many people whose experience is identical.
My day job is to deliver keynotes and workshops focused on leadership. Following each session I commonly receive requests to contact individual attendees to talk about what I might do for their company or because they want to connect me to an organization for which I would be a good fit. Being a simple kind of guy, when someone asks me to phone or email them, I do exactly that. That’s when the plot thickens.
The vast majority of people simply don’t answer their phone. Calls go to voice mail. That in itself is worthy of discussion, but the lack of a return call is the key point.
I’ll commonly follow up several times, which seems reasonable, given that I was asked to call. I’ll leave a series of voice mails, often including a suggested time to talk so that we don’t play phone tag. The result: crickets.
The same thing plays out with emails and text messages, almost all of which never get a reply.
To back up just a step, all of this is in an effort to contact people who have asked me to contact them. And they don’t respond. We don’t connect. And, as I said, this is commonplace stuff, all of which is leading to my question: What’s going on in our society where people are routinely blowing off one another and it’s apparently okay to do that?
I’ve noodled over this to find an explanation for the behavior and have come up with a few guesses:
- People are significantly more conflict avoidant than were earlier generations and they simply can’t bear the anxiety of saying, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
- People are insanely self-focused and have no conscious notion that what they do has an effect on others.
- It’s a control thing: “I control if an when I make contact with others.”
- People don’t like to be distracted, even as they are so distractible, so they try to focus on whatever is in front of them at the moment. In that scenario, a call, email or text is unwelcome. And quickly forgotten.
- The best game in the world is deleting emails, voice mails and texts. Don’t you feel lighter just thinking about doing that?
- This is really a subset of #5: People are overwhelmed with things to read, tasks to accomplish, places to be, and the deluge of information that assaults our senses every day, so avoiding is a satisfying thing and may even feel like a survival scheme.
Any of that could be true and, really, the blow off behavior may be due to a completely different set of crazies. Nevertheless, my start as an early Boomer gives me sensibilities that tell me that it’s simply rude to blow off others and rude has somehow become acceptable. If true, what does that say about us?
Finally, the president, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer had a photo op in conjunction with their budget discussions on Tuesday. Right in front of the cameras they got into bickering about the wall and even with multiple invitations from Schumer and Pelosi Trump refused to remove the press and have a private conversation. So, we watched temper tantrums on display for the world to watch. I was so embarrassed seeing that behavior that I turned off the TV.
That display was courtesy of the president we call the leader of the free world. Can you imagine any world leader who would want to follow him?
A post post – During that embarrassing exchange in the Oval Office, Trump interrupted Chuck Schumer 3 or 4 times; he interrupted Nancy Pelosi 16 times. Click the pick and see for yourself. Then decide if there was any sexism – or you can call it disrespect – going on.
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Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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