REVEALED: Why People Don't Respond To Emails Anymore

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The New York Times reporter Alina Tugend noticed that lately, people are much less likely to respond to emails from their friends and colleagues.

She asked a bunch of people why.

Some answers:

  • We're not used to the pacing yet. Rutgers Business School professor Terri Kurtzberg says that while in audible conversations  “it’s clear how long a silence should last before you need to respond. There’s no norm with digital communication."

  • We want to say no to a favor asked, but feel guilty. “I want to say ‘no,’ but feel that the right thing is to say ‘yes,’ so I am frozen and then I plan on going back to the e-mail to draft a reply, but it gets buried. Then I feel even worse for not replying and put it off again. It’s not nice to leave people hanging, but I do.”

  • It's easier. “If people send me a message that I don’t want to deal with, it’s easier not to respond. At this stage, there are so many requests from my children, I can’t deal with requests from adults.”

  • Not replying sends a message. “Recently, a nanny asked me for a job reference. I don’t think the nanny deserves the reference. I thought about responding, but didn’t. To me, it’s easier not to say something.”

  • “No response is the new no.”

  • We mean to write a thoughtful response, but never find the time.  “Sometimes, I don’t answer because I don’t have time to give the response I think is deserved, so I put it off until later, then forget and the message winds up being that I didn’t care enough to respond, when, in fact, I cared too much."

  • Replying will just result in more email.  “Replying to e-mail is like slaying the Hydra. Once you answer one, it often generates a flurry of more e-mails.”

On Twitter, WSJ publisher Raju Narisetti linked to this article, and said, "ignoring E-Mails is a new way to say 'No,' increasing irritation levels."

NBC chief digital officer Vivian Schiller responded to the tweet , calling the trend, "inexcusable."

What do you think?



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