Communication is tricky. It’s a little bit what is being said, a little bit what is being shown (with the body) and even a little bit what isn’t being said or shown. If you are not careful, you may be labeled inconsiderate and send the wrong message.
Recently I read an article by Mel Robbins in Success Magazine. The article, Silent Scorn, talks about an event where Mel’s son was going to have a sleep over with one of his friends. The little friend did not show and when Mel finally called to find out where she was, her parents informed Mel that the little girl had gotten scared and decided not to come over. The parents hadn’t taken the time to call and let Mel know what was going on so that she could inform her son. The little boy was able to easily bounce back with little disappointment but this inconsiderate behavior sent a message non-the-less; “You aren’t important”.
Are YOU Inconsiderate?
What you choose to do or not do, says just as much to the people in your life as what you say and don’t say. Quite often this method of communication is usually inadvertent but the message is still clear. Here are some of the most common inconsiderate behaviors and the messages that get sent as well as some suggestions you could do instead:
- Being Late – This is probably the most common form of silent communication. If you are late, no matter what the valid excuse may be, you are sending a message to the person you are meeting that your time is more valuable than theirs and you couldn’t stop what you were previously doing with enough time to get to where you were going. This may not be what you truly believe and it may not actually be the case, but the message is still very clear.
What to do instead - Plan accordingly. Map out the time it will take you to arrive at your destination the day before and schedule your day around that. Plan the right amount of time plus a little extra as a cushion. In our day of modern conveniences, if you arrive early, you’ll still be able to catch up on phone calls, check an email or two or get a little extra reading done while you wait.
- Not Returning Calls – “I’m too busy for you”. You may make a conscious decision not to return a call due to the amount of perceived time or lack of interest in the topic. Either way, you are sending a message that the other person isn’t important or you are too busy.
What to do instead – Schedule call backs for the same time of day. Respond to messages with an email if you truly do not have time to talk. Better yet, call the person back and let them know you appreciate them and now isn’t the best time to talk. Then schedule another time you two can cover whatever it is the caller needed.
- RSVP No-Show – When someone organizes a party, class, workshop or event and you RSVP to go, the person is counting on your attendance. That person has put a lot of time and energy into that event and may have specific costs involved based on the number of attendees. RSVPing and not showing up sends a message of unprofessionalism and lack of commitment and integrity. Your word is obviously no good. Be careful when it comes to asking them to take you on your word for things you consider important.
What to do instead – This one always makes me think of the poor prom date left waiting on the night of prom because her date found someone better. If you are RSVPing you are making a commitment. Honor that commitment as if your life depended on it. It’s easy to assume the person won’t notice if you don’t show, but they usually do and they remember. If you say you are going to go, go.
- Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask – Now this is going to sound somewhat counter to my ongoing mantra that we all must learn to ask for help. However, when you regularly ask someone for help and never reciprocate you are sending the message that they are a usable resource only.
What to do instead – Make sure you are offering some form of reciprocation that is agreed upon by both parties. The reciprocation does not always need to be financial but, if you are not providing the other person with some value that they accept as currency, they will consider the chronic behavior as inconsiderate.
I asked for input for this post on my Facebook wall. There were quite a few behaviors that were just blatantly rude so, while highly offensive, were not included here as I wanted to address the ones that seem to be more inconsiderate (lacking consideration) and less deliberate. I am hoping awareness can help some of us to be a little more considerate of those we are attempting to bring into our circles of influence.
What other behaviors do you think are inconsiderate when people you know do them (or don’t do them) right to you?