Why You Should Write Back. Now.

Write back_pin

Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear.
Isaiah 65:24

Hit Send

It felt risky. I wasn’t sure I should say it. I wondered if it would change things, make things weird.

I wordsmithed it cautiously, copied it to Gmail, and hit send.

Then waited.
For something.
Anytime now.

You, too? Waiting to hear back from someone about something you sent?

No Response?

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m not always good about responding either. I definitely could be better. 

But this I know. Eventually. . . 

We all should write back.

(Or text or message or call or visit . . . .)

Because we all know what it feels like when someone doesn’t get back to us.

It hurts.

  • When you make yourself vulnerable but are left hanging, you question if you said too much.
  • When you throw out a tiny bait but get no bite at all, you wonder who cares.
  • When you ask a question but get no answer, you feel insulted.

At the very least, you feel unheard. Did they even get my message? Maybe my email bounced? Was my voicemail deleted?

Now What?

What can we do when someone doesn’t respond to us? Not much. We can’t make someone pay attention. Try again if it’s important. Or forgive and move on.

But we can control how we respond to others.

Be the one to reach back.

You might not heal the hurt or dispense wisdom or fix any problems with your reply. But when you affirm that you’re listening, at least you stay connected.

So if you can:

  • When someone sends you a note, acknowledge its receipt.
  • When someone asks a question, give an answer (“I don’t know” is acceptable; so is, “I’ll respond later.”)
  • When someone says, “I need help,” say that you care (if you do), even if you don’t know what to do next.

Any acknowledgement, however short, is better than none at all.

So say something.
Hey, I hear you. I care. You matter.

Write back.

Who do you need to respond to today? It’s not too late. It can be short, but let it be something. Please share your thoughts in the comments

revised from the archives

34 thoughts on “Why You Should Write Back. Now.

  1. bill (cycleguy)

    I try to respond to every email that is personal. I may not get to it right away. It may sit in my inbox for a week or so (or maybe longer). But I eventually get there. I tell Jo is it rude to get a personal email and not respond. Even if it is acknowledgment that you received it is better than limbo. Good advice Lisa.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That’s a great policy, Bill. Most people understand that it can take a little time to get back to them. We all have things that come up and interrupt us from responding quickly. But eventually getting there is what counts.

  2. Barbara Harper

    I so agree. When there’s no response, the writer is just left hanging. Then it’s awkward wondering if we should write again in case the first message got lost in the spam folder, or whether that would be too pushy if they did receive the message but have not responded. We wonder if we said something that didn’t set well with them in some way. I don’t expect an immediate response to any correspondence, even texts–there are times when response is not possible, or when the person might need time to think before responding. But after a while, it starts getting awkward.

    On the other hand, I correspond with a couple of people with whom I can never get in the last text or email. There’s the initial message, then a response, then a thank you, then a “you’re welcome,” then a response to that, then smiley faces, etc. etc. Ha! At some point I say “Enough” and stop. But I know that’s not the kind of thing you’re talking about.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Ha. I go through those endless loops sometimes too. Never knowing when to “hang up.” Back in the old days, you just hung up the phone and that was that. But nowadays, you can always come back five minutes later and send another text, etc. I guess we’re all still learning the rules of courtesy for our new tech. 🙂

  3. Lois Flowers

    Oh, Lisa … I recently reached out to a dear friend that I’ve lost touch with, and so far, I haven’t heard anything back. It’s tempting to think I did something years ago to offend or hurt or whatever. And maybe I did and don’t know. But I’m also trying to think that maybe it’s not about me at all. I love your suggestion to be proactive in how WE respond when others reach out to us. You’re so right … that’s the only thing we can control.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      “I’m also trying to think that maybe it’s not about me at all.” Yes, and isn’t that often the case? Sometimes when I delay in responding it’s because I’ve just got too much going on and I want to wait until I can respond best. But in the meantime, the other person is left hanging. 🙁 I pray that you’ll hear back soon from your friend, Lois!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re right, Theresa. Sometimes if we’ll make the move again, it’s the nudge the other person needs. I’m glad people have done with me because now and again things do totally fall through the cracks and I need that second prompt to get me going again.

  4. Martha J Orlando

    It is so important to respond to others, Lisa. Particularly, I acknowledge everyone who leaves comments on my blog with a rejoinder. I want them to know I hear them, and that their presence is much appreciated.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’re very good at this, Martha. I appreciate you and notice it! It’s often in the comments that we really get to know other bloggers better. My problem is time management; I want to allocate more time to answering comments but too often other things nudge it out of the way. 🙁

  5. David

    Caught myself thinking, “Nice post, I’ll comment later” 😀

    I definitely respond directly if at all possible — even in a holding reponse I’ll try and move things forward a little (e.g. ask for clarifications, give some quick suggestions). As you say, it helps create a positive atmosphere.

    I could be better online — too often reading and enjoying without giving thanks.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Lol. I do that too with online stuff: “I’ll comment later.” And then I forget or can’t find the site to return to.

      But with real life stuff it’s often more critical. “Moving things forward a little” is a great way to put it. It doesn’t take much to do that, but it can make more of a difference than we realize.

  6. floyd samons

    Great post, Lisa! I get aggravated when someone doesn’t have the common courtesy to respond. It’s like saying thank you when someone holds a door for you.

    I know everyone is different and they might not see it like that. After a few times of responding or corresponding with no response then I realize that the person on the other end isn’t listening and isn’t interested in any words I have to share.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      If we all could just slow down a little more, we’d be better at responding to each other. I know that’s true for me. Sigh. I actually put a line item on my daily calendar as of late: “Cut out one thing.” But often it’s just that line that I cut out. 🙂

  7. Wendy @ One Exceptional Life

    I agree 100%. I always reply. My husband jokes that I always have to have the last word, especially in text messages. But in texting, where do we draw the line? I’m trying to figure that out. But in a letter, phone call or email, be respectful. Great thought.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      My youngest daughter and I tend to do that too…one more text, then one more, then one more. It’s hard to know when to stop. I don’t know the proper polite protocol. ha.

  8. Rebecca Hastings

    Responding can feel so hard! I am learning that the amount of time I spend stressing over it is far worse than actually doing it, so anything that requires less than 2 minutes (and isn’t emotionally wrought) I try to do right away.

    Those emotional ones, though, those are the ones I need to hold back a bit to make sure my feelings aren’t out of line. Finding that wisdom is key for me!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve discovered that same thing, Rebecca! Sometimes I’ll wait days worrying about a response, then when I sit down to actually do it, it was no big deal. I use the 2-minute rule for a lot of regular tasks, but I should use it for responding too. 🙂

      And you’re also right that sometimes we need to hit PAUSE before we respond. Too quick of a response in the heat of a moment can get us in trouble.

  9. Trudy

    This is such a great post, Lisa. Thank you! I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels strongly about this. I know the hurt one can feel. I feel it’s so important to acknowledge and show they and their voice matters. I try to remember like Lois that maybe it’s not about me at all. But it’s surprising how many people don’t acknowledge emails or texts, even when it’s really important. Sometimes even gifts aren’t acknowledged. It leads me to wonder if they were ever received, but I just have to trust they were. Often God reminds me that I needn’t always expect a thank you in return and just to trust Him. Also to remember to acknowledge Him for what He sends. I’m so poor at that, but He is so patient, isn’t He? Love and blessings to you!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes, it leaves us wondering. I think people aren’t responding with thank you notes near as much as they did in the past with gifts. It’s not that I need to be praised for giving, but I do like to make sure a gift landed in the right hands. Oh well. You’re right though: just trust God with the results. He is definitely FAR more patient than I am. 🙂 Blessings to you too, friend.

  10. Diane@worthbeyondrubies

    Oh how this spoke to me! I find I get so hurt and yeah, I take it personally even though I know in some cases I do the same. I intend to reply when I am done working on something and then get busy and forget. On the other side of the coin, sometimes I just want to get it done so I DON’T forget and I end up replying too quickly without thinking or praying about something first. I need to pray more about finding that middle ground. Thank you for this advice and thank you for linking up with me @worthbeyondrubies

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Not taking things personally is a life lesson I’m *trying* to learn, but it’s difficult. I read “Unoffendable” a few years back and it really helped. But I need to re-read it every year to keep it sticking. 🙂

      Yes, there is the opposite end of this spectrum too, when we reply TOO quickly. I had to close my laptop and walk away even this morning to keep from responding too quickly to an irritation. We definitely need to stay balanced and respond wisely.

      Thanks for your faithfulness in hosting at Worth Beyond Rubies.

  11. Lesley

    I agree, I find it hard when people don’t respond – and I’d much rather have an “I don’t know” or a polite “No,” than feel like I’m being ignored. This is a good reminder not to neglect responding to others. I do try to but I’m sure there are times when I should try to do it more quickly.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve been waiting on a reply for awhile now that I’d be happy to hear at least an “I don’t know.” Just something! ha. And then about 2 hours ago, I got the reply I needed. Yippee! It wasn’t the information yet, but it was a promise that she would get the information to me. That’s huge so I’m happy. 🙂

  12. Laurie

    Preaching to the choir, Lisa! This is why I respond to every comment on the blog. I hope you hear back soon and I hope the response is what you want it to be! 🙂 It’s tough to “not take it personally”. We are all people! 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      You’ve very good at responding to all your blog comments, Laurie! Much better than I am. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t. I appreciate those who do it so well!

      I’m featuring your grocery store post here on my blog tomorrow as the featured post for Grace & Truth. It really hit home with me (as so many of your posts do). 🙂

  13. Valerie Riese

    I love this Lisa! In today’s world there are so many ways to reach out even if only to say “I heard you” to acknowledge one another. I understand people are busy and things happen, but I do feel hurt when I’m repeatedly ignored, like I don’t matter. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and bearing your heart

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Valerie. Now more than ever, I hope everyone will be intentional to stay in touch with each other through our digital means if we can’t in person. I feel that it’s going to be very weird in the next several weeks as we distance ourselves physically; praying we don’t do it in other ways too.

  14. Angela Johnson

    Great reminder and exactly what I needed to hear. I have a page of comments that I have been meaning to get to, but with all the chaos going on it just slipped my mind. I have to tell you though, you do a wonderful job of replying back to every comment you receive. I pray I can be more like you.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I appreciate your encouragement, Angela, but I don’t do a good job at this myself, at least not with comments. 🙁 If I had more time, I would love to answer every comment. The community of bloggers has been such a Godsend to me! But like everyone else, we usually have so many other things going on at the same time. So we just do what we can! I don’t expect replies back from others when I comment on their blogs; if I do get a response back, I consider it a bonus. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *