“The absence of response activates the imagination and depreciation”

Malene Rydahl is the author of I am answering you … Me neither. The art of responding to and understanding non-responses in the digital age (Flammarion, 2020).

Have we entered the era of non-response?

Today, no one is safe from seeing one of his messages go unanswered. We carried out a survey in six countries (Germany, Korea, Denmark, France, United Kingdom, United States), which shows that this phenomenon is generalized. Overall, 72% of respondents say they do not respond to certain professional messages, 64% in a friendly and / or family context and 60% in romantic relationships.

Why are we no longer responding?

In more than two thirds of the situations, the non-responses have no personal reason and are linked to too heavy a mental load. We run out of time, we forget to answer or we have too many messages. Voluntary non-responses are in the minority. However, depending on the issue, the sending channel, the sender, the time of reception …, we will give a different priority to certain messages compared to others, or compared to other tasks. .

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You insist on the consequences of this silence …

More than half of the people questioned say they are emotionally affected in the event of non-response. 80% of people prefer a negative or even unpleasant answer rather than silence. Because the absence of return activates the imagination and depreciation. “I am not good enough, he does not answer me”, this is experienced as a rejection of his person, of what we represent. Reactions to non-response, especially in personal or emotional professional relationships, can be very intense and mobilize our energy and emotions for long periods of time.

How can we deal with this frustration?

It is necessary to take a step back. Realize that there is a gap between the causes of the phenomenon and the reactions to it. Also know how to be patient. Half of those surveyed believe they face a non-response after three hours for instant messages and one day for emails! Finally, keep in mind that non-response is everyone’s freedom, yours as well as that of the other. We can make sure to improve our emails, make efforts to better understand and accept the response system of our interlocutors, relaunch effectively. There will always be cases where you will not be answered or not quickly enough. You have to accept it.

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