Psychology: not responding to messages, meaning and motivations

Who I am
Robert Maurer

In this article, psychology helps us understand why a person may not respond to messages. Are you ready to discover the hard truth?

Some people respond to messages quickly and fully, but sadly most don't.

This problem has recently materialized for me in a conversation with a co-worker. We were discussing a topic of common interest when she told me referring to a third person: "He's a Millennial, he probably won't call me back, but I'll leave him a message anyway."

The ease with which he said it surprised me, it made me think and I talked about it with the others. There seems to be a marked gap compared to ten years ago in terms of the regularity and predictability with which all types of messages are returned.

Where is the sense of urgency? Call me a dinosaur, but I've always thought that answering messages was important, a sign of trustworthiness, a good thing in business. When I was in the corporate world, just three and a half years ago, I always made sure to reply to every message, unless a message was completely off topic, like someone calling me to sell me cat food, no later than end of. The day. Maybe I even left a very short voicemail or a short email, but I always responded. I saw it as a kind of responsibility.

There doesn't seem to be the same sense of urgency today. The situation is widespread, but it is perceived most acutely among Millennials. For example, voicemails are rarely listened to, emails may or may not be returned, a Facebook invitation may be accepted months after it is sent, text messages float unanswered in some kind of vast and random cyber vacuum. . While this isn't just a millennial problem, it seems to be more prevalent among young people.

What's happening? To try to make sense of my observations, I spoke to a number of people, including some Millennials. Interestingly, no one really disagreed with me; on the other hand, no one seemed too upset about this.

Here are 3 reasons why people may not respond to messages:

  1. There are too many different types of messages out there. Between text messages, Whatsapp, tweets, Facebook messages, LinkedIn emails, traditional emails, voicemails, and more, it's easy for some messages to get lost in the shuffle.
  2. People are too busy. Everyone is in a hurry and multitasking, switching between tasks with mobile devices glued to their ears and fingers. In a generally hectic environment, it's easy for little things like messaging to get out of hand.
  3. People are a bit lazy and prefer to avoid difficult things. This may explain why an increasing number of my, shall we say, more "challenging" business messages go unanswered. Conflict is unpleasant, as is the idea that someone may not do something at any given time. So if there isn't a clear expectation or a definite answer asked for (and sometimes even if it's an ultimatum) it's easier and less stressful to ignore and forget.

I always thought replying to messages was an unappealing but indispensable way of doing business. Unexciting and boring, but a must. I sometimes wonder what the long-term business implications are for productivity in a less responsive world.

Why might some people not respond to messages when you know they've seen them? A psychologist answers

Karen M Shelton, BA in Sociology and Psychology, responded to our question “Of course I can't vouch for others, but I can give some examples, based mainly on my own experiences”.

Here are some possible reasons why people may not respond to messages when they know they've seen them:

  • They are at work and cannot reply to the message immediately. Some offices have rules against the use of mobile phones during business hours.
  • The message came with a torrent of other whatsapps and was lost in the crowd.
  • They are deliberately ignoring you.
  • They don't want to spend time on you.
  • They don't want to encourage you to keep texting.
  • He does not likes you.
  • They are living their life and don't want to take the time to text or chat.
  • I'm in the bathroom
  • They are sleeping.
  • It was accidental. They intended, but .......
  • You send an annoying message and they don't want to reply because it can be hard to be nice and polite (this is my main messaging sin, but I try to be polite and reply to the message even if I think it's annoying).
  • They don't want to be rude and text in front of other people.
  • They could be at an event or a meeting or somewhere where it would be awkward to respond to the message.
  • You are texting a seducer who does not want his other love interests to see him texting you or viewing your messages.
  • The message has provoked a reaction that they do not want to face.
  • They were driving when you sent the message and forgot to reply.
  • I'm on a break from everyone's messages, not just you.
  • Your dog ate your phone.
  • They don't like texting and there really are people who don't like it.
  • They are shy and do not know how to respond to messages.
  • Your phone lost service.
  • They lost their phone at home (another one of my sins).
  • They haven't really seen the message, but they think they have (it happens more often than people realize).
  • Your phone was lost or stolen.
  • They have not paid their phone bill and their service has been disabled.
  • The stars have a bad disposition (another one of my excuses, sometimes)
  • Not all letters require a response or even an emoji.
  • You accidentally texted the wrong person and they don't see the need to reply.
  • They accidentally replied to the message by writing to the wrong person (it happens sometimes, I swear).
  • They are worried that if they respond to the message you can continue writing to them and they have nothing more to say.
  • Your messages are annoying in some way.
  • They think that if they don't answer, you won't either.

Sometimes the psychology doesn't matter, if someone doesn't respond to your messages, maybe it depends on the context.

It's also important to consider the relationship you have with the person you're texting with.

This could make a difference in how someone responds.

If it's your parents, your best friends or your partner and they don't answer you, maybe you should worry.

If it's a new relationship, maybe you're getting too loud, texting too much, he doesn't like you as much as you think, or you just hate texting. Or all these things together.

One of my friends, who is very into all dating apps, doesn't respond to messages if someone starts a conversation with Hi or Hei. Yes, this may be rude or disrespectful, but it is.

Some people don't like texting other people and prefer a person-to-person exchange. I personally love the phone and would rather call than text. Especially if it's someone I really like.

It's not always about you. In fact, it can rarely be about you.

Yes, it can be rude not to respond to the message, but if you don't respond, they are rude, not you.

Good luck to you.

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