When your request is the one being ignored, do you feel responsiveness matters?
In this day of electronic devices, it´s easier than ever to ignore a message. It´s easy to believe that no response is efficient and acceptable. If we´re experts in a particular area, it´s easy to ignore what we believe to be ignorant questions.
How does an accumulating attitude of acceptable dismissal affect all of us?
Obviously, this is a large topic so I´ll just have to hold it to a few high points or be dismissed myself. That´s okay. My hope is that we all come away with more awareness and the willingness to examine our feelings and behaviors so that we can then choose the level of responsiveness we hope to contribute to our relationships with our spouses, children, extended family, bosses, coworkers, customers, as well as corporate behemoths, the sick, the distressed, and the suffering we encounter.
The World Health Organization lists responsiveness as one of the 3 areas of focus for its goals for health systems. This makes sense given that:
1)When a healthcare system fails to be responsive to patients, it often results in higher mortality rates.1
2) Patient surveys rate doctors higher when the treating physician is perceived as empathetic. It is hard to be perceived as empathetic if you are not responsive.2
3)Frustration at a lack of response leads to nursing home falls, higher stress levels, and diminished trust – none of which are conducive to healing.
Similarly, frustration at a lack of response has fueled the anger of many African-Americans toward law enforcement. You can view the pain, suffering, and violence that have resulted almost daily on the news.
Eric Holtzclaw noted in an article entitled, ¨The Importance of Responsiveness¨, which appeared in Inc. Magazine, ¨A lack of responsiveness is the most common underlying problem I find at the businesses I work with that are experiencing issues achieving growth.¨ 3 Not only can a lack of responsiveness prevent business growth, it can cause a loss of customers. How many of you have left Comcast, AT&T, or Windstream as soon as you had another option due to a lack of response to your specific problems with their service?
Failing to respond is probably one of the fastest ways to get sued when you get crossways over quality of service, fulfillment of a contract, or payment of a bill. Speaking of, sending a non responsive email is no more effective at preventing a lawsuit than no response at all. It may, in fact, accelerate the process by escalating a feeling of conflict or dismissal.
All of us want to be validated and acknowledged. Babies learn about themselves through the mimicking of their facial expressions by a responsive caregiver. They also learn trust and the concept of having some control over their circumstances when the caregiver responds to their cues.
And according to a post on Psychology Today originally written for the website Science of Relationships, the best life partner is one who is responsive. ¨A responsive partner is someone who makes you feel understood, validated, and cared for.¨ 4,5,6 Sounds right to me. If a partner has that quality, then everything else is going to be easier to negotiate.
From our very beginning, responsiveness shapes our perception of who we are and how we fit in the world. It then affects our health, our safety, our trust level, our career success, and our satisfaction with our partners. Can changing our level of responsiveness make a difference in the world?
Why not? It seems obvious that responsiveness matters to all of us!
5) Reis, H. T., Clark, M. S., & Holmes, J. G. (2004). Perceived partner responsiveness as an organizing construct in the study of intimacy and closeness. In D. J. Mashek & A. P. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (pp. 201-225). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
6) Maisel, N. C., Gable, S. L., & Strachman, A. (2008). Responsive behaviors in good times and bad. Personal Relationships, 15, 317-338.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”