Silence - The Worst Answer You Can Give

Imagine you’re at a party, and someone approaches you and asks, “Hi [Insert Your Name Here]!  Would you be able to answer a quick question?

And then you turn and walk away.

That’s what you do when you don’t reply to someone online.  You cut the conversation off before any natural conclusion, leaving the other person in the dust.  If you did that to someone you knew, you just crapped on whatever relationship you had and flushed it down the toilet.  People would talk about what the hell is wrong with you, and you’d develop a negative reputation from your terrible interactions.

When we’re online though, not replying is accepted as normal.  We make excuses that we’re too busy or can’t answer questions, when a simple reply can make someone’s day.  (Need proof?  Ask Old Spice.)

Silence is the worst answer you can give to a question online.  Whether you are an individual or representing a company, silence says, “I don’t care enough to answer your question.”    It’s easiest way to show you don’t even care enough even to acknowledge someone exists.

If you are given the choice between reading an excruciating message and then having to write an equally painful reply or sitting in silence, write the reply.  Silence drives people nuts.  Ask anyone who has applied for a job and never heard anything back.  Not only will they remember who never got back to them, but they probably won’t have a nice thing to say about that experience.

Now, should you always answer people’s questions in full detail?  No!  Sometimes, reminding people that a quick Google search is enough.  Other times, you might need to say, “I’m not familiar with this area.” or “I can’t answer that.”  Those at least point the questioner one step closer to the correct area.  Whatever you do, don’t lie.  Deceit is just as bad as silence.

Whatever you do, take the minute or two to read the correspondence and write a decent, honest reply.  Yes, it might be painful.  Yes, you could be doing something else.  But you have the potential to make someone’s day that much more awesome, even by cutting the bullshit.

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