This is really an interesting question. Technology has made it easy to assume that if I email, text, Slack or Teams message someone, they have a device with them that shows them the message.
We all know that, and it sets certain expectations, doesn’t it?
“Ellie Harmon, a senior instructor at Portland State University, pointed out to me that technology isn’t in and of itself stressful—other people’s expectations are. “
This is really the thing. We all know that our devices are with us all the time, and we all know that everyone else knows. So when the notification pops up, there’s an instantaneous thought process that we all go through.
And no, it’s not is this important or can it wait? The actual thought process is “they know I see this and are probably expecting a response”
However the article below also points out that much of the time, that’s isn’t true. Someone was just reaching out and there is no hurry or even an expectation of immediate response but we don’t know that. So, we either drop everything to reply or we apologize for any delay in replying.
Which makes no sense.
I’ve been involved in direct work with clients in half-day training, or multi-hours long workshops and replied to an email afterwards with an “I’m sorry, I was tied up” opening.
Yes, I’m apologizing for doing my job and paying attention to it.
How dumb is that?
Or, how often are we apologizing for a delay because we were helping the kids with homework, having dinner with a spouse, enjoying a catch-up with a friend, etc?
Then, we apologize for having a life that isn’t non-stop devoted to working.
I agree with the author, I’m not sorry. Even if I typed it, I take it back. I’m not sorry. You should not be sorry, and we should all do a much better job at setting better expectations.
For example “Hey I’ve got some time to send this now, but you can get back to me when it’s convenient for you”
When was the last time you sent a message like that?
Managers, this goes double (triple?) for you. Your directs are absolutely going to prioritize getting back to you when they shouldn’t unless you tell them not to. So please tell them not to. Set the example and the expectation.