How to Break the Silence: Overcoming Unwanted Communication Gaps.
I’m not too fond of labels, so let’s immediately set aside the trending word “ghosting” and instead call it what it is. Silence. The delightfully messy space between your communication and your expectation of a response. Nothing more, nothing less. By setting aside the label, we can begin to break the silence and overcome unwanted communication gaps.
You are not the voice inside your head. There is a gap, a space, a silence when that voice shuts up. And this is a space worth exploration. ~ Frances Trussell
Let’s look at silence in the context of business relationships. I’m sure it’s happened to you; you call, send an email or text, and someone suddenly stops communicating without explanation. You try again, and still no response. You are puzzled, so you re-read what you wrote, wondering if you said something wrong or question whether your communication got through. You blame technology, and still, that little voice in your head wonders what you did. Perhaps you create fantastical stories about the silence. “They hate my product.” “I’m annoying.” “They don’t like me.” “I offended them.” “My suggestion is stupid.” “I’m not important.” Or worse, “they are stupid, disrespectful, arrogant, entitled, unprofessional.” Resist the urge; this is not personal.
Over many years and many businesses, I’ve successfully navigated TONS of silence. I can thank silence for my niche in communication and relationships! So let silence be silence, nothing more, nothing less. You can take steps that increase your chances of achieving a response and, more importantly, make a real difference in someone’s life.
I’ve received surprising responses. “Thank you for really getting me,” “thanks for staying with me,” “your emails were exactly what I needed,” I loved your challenges!” “My mom passed away, and I had to rush out of town,” “I was in a car accident,” “I got fired two weeks ago,” “I was very ill,” “Our server crashed, and we lost all our emails.”
I’ve also had people say, “I’ve been avoiding your question,” “I was too afraid to say no (and also yes).” By persisting with heart and curiosity, you create a safe space for people to strengthen their communication, grow from the experience, and overcome their fear of being direct. They’ll never forget you for it.
When you genuinely invest in relationships vs focus on getting what you want, you build relationships (and a business) that stands the test of time and market swings.
To keep you out of your head and in your heart, have a healthy, balanced protocol and procedure for dealing with these situations before they arise; how long will you wait between responses before reaching out again? When dealing with silence, always remain calm and professional in your communications. Where appropriate, remind them they have committed to a project or task and ask for an update on their progress or timeline. Ensure that your emails are clear and concise so that the other party understands what you are asking of them. Reach out via multiple channels, email, phone call, and text message.
Get into relationship with people, judgment and opinion free. If they still refuse to respond after numerous attempts, move on and keep them in your heart.
Silence doesn’t have to derail you or your business plans completely. If the silence of one contact has a profound impact on you and your business it may be time to strengthen your follow-up procedures, your sales process and your communication. A trifecta!
You can navigate these tricky situations more effectively by not taking things personally; staying calm; communicating clearly; focusing on relationships first, and using multiple channels for contact. Remember that setbacks are only temporary and silence is full of opportunity.
If you’d like to work through a particular scenario with me, reach out, I’d love to hear from you.
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