Why you should always respond in kind.

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Why you should always respond in kind.

Encourager-In-Chief: July 31st, 2019

Don’t make this huge communication faux pas.

Do you respond in kind? Today we have so many different ways of communicating back and forth with one another. One of the biggest mistakes people make is assuming that the other person is going to get your message.

A few years ago, one of my closest friends from high school passed away. I knew his younger brother and I also knew that he was hurting. He lived in Florida. The two of us communicated back and forth by phone quite a few times over several months—always by phone. My wife and I made arrangements to drive down to visit and go to dinner with him. After driving nearly 3 hours to his location, I called him to let him know that we were close by. I left a message on his voicemail. We got to the restaurant and I left another message that we had arrived. After waiting about 20 minutes, he called me back. He said that he had been up all night with his daughter, who was not feeling well, and he had fallen asleep. He also said that he sent me a text letting me know that he wouldn’t be able to meet with me that day. He said, “didn’t you get it?” I said, “no. I don’t get texts on my phone and I don’t send them. Why would you send me a text to tell me something so important when we have been communicating by phone for months?” He said, “I prefer the phone too, but my daughter convinced me that I should send the text.”

On another occasion, my email went down. My technical support person had not set up his voicemail on his phone so I couldn’t leave him a message. All I could do is call him and wait for him to call me back. Finally, after about four days he called me and said, “I sent you some emails asking what was wrong, but I didn’t hear back from you. I saw that you kept calling me so I thought I should call and find out what is going on.” I explained that my email is down, so I didn’t see any of his messages and that’s why I kept calling him. I also explained that I called him because my phone worked and I could receive his phone messages.

Many people don’t realize that it’s disrespectful not to respond in kind—in other words to respond to the person’s message using the same form of media in which you received it. If somebody sends you a text, you can respond with a text. If somebody calls you by phone, it is inappropriate for you to email back unless there is no other option. However, if you must do this, be sure to ask the person to respond to your message confirming he or she received it. If you do not get a response back, assume the person to not get your message.

I call people by phone frequently because I want to ask them questions, talk back and forth, and have a conversation. When they do not respond the same way, it denies me the opportunity to find out what I was looking for when I called. Demonstrate good communication manners and remember to respond in kind.
To listen closely and reply well is the highest perfection we are able to attain in the art of conversation.
- François de La Rochefoucauld

This excerpt is taken from my The Fine Art of Listening seminar.

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I encourage you to pre-order my new book “How to Wow!” which covers this lesson in much greater detail.

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