Has Courtesy Become an Afterthought in Today's Technology-Based Communication World?

 I work in Executive Search in my own firm.  I don't have to be reminded that the perception of the Search or Recruiting world is somewhere between Used Car Sales and Telemarketer (no offense intended to either profession).  

I see my work as a little different than most do.  I am a problem solver, a puzzle solver, someone who helps connect people who need to know one another.  Sometimes I get paid, many times I do not.  I enjoy my work and I see what I do as a God-given mission to help people be in a position to be their best.

The course of my work involves reaching out to people of all shapes, sizes, titles and egos.  I try to treat all of these groups the same and I trust they will all treat me with equal respect.  There are times when people contact me and they do not get the most timely response.  Volume is always an issue, but the paying clients typically get first shot at my time.  At the very least I respond to EVERY request, and typically this occurs within 48 hours and usually more quickly.

Many times I send messages or requests to others and they go unanswered.  Sometimes the technology-based world we live in fails us and the message is not delivered.  At other times the recipient is so busy that he/she is not able to respond in a timely manner, but they will respond eventually.  In a few rare occasions there is never a response.  Here is the axe I wish to grind.

If I meet with someone and they provide encouraging feedback and invite me to contact them again then I will do so.  I do not expect instantaneous responses on all contacts, but I do like to hear a positive, neutral or negative response; anything will do.  As a high-interaction person who likes feedback it really gets on my nerves when someone does not respond after giving positive vibes in a future conversation.  This may be caused by a number of factors-here are just a few:

Overwork

Ambivalence

Fear of conflict

Hate to say no

I fully admit that my need for input makes this situation bad for me, but there is also some obligation on the part of the contacted party to give some response.

Some types of people are worse than others at this.  Engineers tend to be one group that really falls into that "fear of conflict" and "hate to say no" area.  Many of my engineering brethren would rather say nothing than say something negative.  That type of thinking is counter-productive on the part of the responder and the initiator.  Information vacuums tend to provide for unintended results.  

If you have a message to deliver, whether that be positive or negative, give it in a timely and direct manner.  Even if it is not the message someone else wants to hear they will appreciate knowing something rather than knowing nothing.