The Value in Not Responding

The Value in Not Responding

Have you ever put an enormous amount of effort into an event or relationship, only to have your efforts seemingly backfire? 

Project Management
  1. Reflect on when you responded promptly and should not have, what can you do in the future to allow time for urgent situations to self-resolve.
  2. We all perceive and view the world differently, learn to prioritize and focus on your core responsibilities and duties before assisting others.
  3. Allowing time before responding will allow the individual requesting help to problem solve and calm themselves before you speak.
  4. Sometimes ignoring a situation is not possible, but often not immediately responding is possible.  Respond when you are in a position to listen and be an agent for good.

The Full Scoop

Albert Einstein has been quoted as saying, "Weak people revenge. Strong people forgive. Intelligent People Ignore".  I've given this a great deal of thought as I've worked with a variety of stakeholders on projects and efforts.  When is it appropriate to ignore a request being made by another on your time and resources?  Isn't it a good thing to be generous in your time and resources with those around you?

There is a great deal to be said in the art of not responding.  Many of the issues we are handed by those around us are urgent, but they are not necessarily important.  Sometimes they are only important and urgent to the individual, and by immediately responding and becoming involved; will only frustrate the person seeking assistance, especially when it is something that they themselves are going to be key in resolving.  If they perceive you as being in a position to fix it, and you can't, emotions can rise.

Great leaders recognize when they should or should not respond to a given request or event.  Often by not responding or not responding immediately, they are putting the requester into a position of ownership.  We need to learn how to allow others to bear the ownership of their positions and responsibilities.

Let's consider an example of an IT Support Desk.  If you are a technician on a helpdesk, you are expected to handle the active incoming requests from clients.  You are owning your core responsibility as you make yourself available.  If other employees from outside departments are coming to you while you are trying to work, and are asking you to stop what you are doing to assist them; doing so will have a negative impact on your performance.  If you respond to personal matters from families and friends while working, your performance will suffer.  You need strong focus while you are working to deliberately accomplish your assigned duties.

The same concept applies to a project manager or executive.  If you allow outside issues to directly impact your day to day responsibilities, your performance will suffer.  Learning to avoid responding to issues those less confident or capable around you are facing, will give them a chance to figure out a solution and allow you the time you need to complete your assignments at that moment in time.  Following up later to see how things were resolved will show that you do care, but that in that moment it was important for the individual to bear the burden of their own responsibility and duties.

We live in a complicated and fast paced world, important and urgent issues cannot always be ignored, but learning when to respond and when not to respond will elevate your potential for success and aid your team in learning how to problem solve issues independently and with confidence.