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Living Up to Friend’s Email Expectations

Email and Your Friend's Expectations

Do you have friends who expect you to respond to their emails in seconds? Or how about those friends that want you to be available at all times for texts or chats? Do they think you have nothing better to do?

Then, when you explain why you didn’t respond or were not available to chat — hurt feelings come into play. They think you don’t care or that they are not important enough.

Underlying Emotions

I don’t understand why someone would choose to have hurt feelings simply because the other side was busy. When that happens there tends to be more history and emotions under the surface than just a lack of a speedy reply.

What do we do about those contacts that impose expectations on their communications with us? I don’t think there is a one-off answer for that.

So much has to do with the dynamics of the relationship. Is there a history? Is one person assuming more about the relationship than the other? Even the answers to these questions can be subjective.

What Both Sides Don’t Know

No one knows the other side’s situation. Both from those who demand speedy replies and those who are busy at the time.

So what we can do is be clear about our schedules and time constraints. With those you see commenting on your availability, time to be clear so as to set expectations.

For those that choose to be hurt by delayed responses, maybe clarify that’s not your intent. That’s what friends do. If you care, time to set the record straight to avoid future misunderstandings.

Then let them know your availability and what your general response time is. Layout it out clearly and concisely.

Yes, in some cases you are setting sometimes unwanted guide posts for a relationship by doing so. And that can be difficult.

However, if you have a contact intimating your lack of response is upsetting to them, time to set things straight. Better to do this sooner than later.

Courtesy = Prompt Replies

When it comes to response time, basic Email Etiquette dictates that you respond promptly to your incoming emails. However, as we know in the real world that isn’t always possible.

Nor by virtue of having an email address does that mean you are responsible to reply on a timely bases to anyone who emails you. There are those you don’t want to communicate with — and that is your choice.

Your basic choices are to either ignore them or be clear and honest about the relationship status. Clearly if the other side feels the relationship warrants more attention than you are willing to give, time for a talk.

With that said, there are times and situations in relationships where we may unintentionally make others feel ignored or put off. What we are talking about here are the day-to-day communications that, in general, are not urgent or time sensitive.

In that case a quick apology and explanation will do. No need to go into any further details than you are comfortable.

Relationships Are About Understanding

Email and texting may be virtually instantaneous, but people are not. After all there is this entire other off-line world filled with responsibilities and activities that take folks away from their devices.

All too often folks only think of themselves and not the other person on the other side of the screen. So let them know in a kind and gentle tone that they are important but that you simply cannot be available all the time.

And if you are one of those who gets hurt or upset whenever someone doesn’t respond as fast as you like, it’s nothing to be mad or upset about. Understanding what our friend’s lives entail, not just what we need at any given moment, is also part of being a good friend, right?

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