Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Why am I apologizing? (Question of the Day: 50)
How long can I go on apologizing for not getting back to someone sooner before it becomes apparent that I simply don't get back to people sooner, and my apology is exposed as insincere?
I am, unlike everyone in the world, not overly impressed by the telephone or the e-mail. In my opinion, immediacy does not equal urgency. The fact that you can contact me right now doesn't mean that I want to talk to you right now.
You know, people send a letter, and I get that letter, and read it, and make a note to reply to it when I can / when I need to. And everyone in the world is okay with that. But someone leaves me a phone message, and I get that, and make a note to call them back when I can / when I need to, and they -- along with most people I know -- are shocked. E-mail is the same. People are constantly confounded by the fact that I can read an e-mail and then not immediately reply to it.
So I started saying to people things like Sorry I didn't call you back sooner, or sorry I didn't email you sooner, but then, one day, I realized (a) that's insincere, and (b) the other person, if I've talked to them before, knows it's not sincere, and (c) why should I have to call them back sooner? If someone calls me today and leaves a message and it's not urgent, and I call them, say, Saturday or Sunday, why am I apologizing?
After all: they called me when it was convenient for them. So am I not allowed the same luxury, of talking to them when it's convenient for me?
So if you call me or e-mail me: I'll get back to you when I can/ when I need to. And I'm not sorry.