UPS had a slogan for a while – “Moving at the speed of business.”
Back in a previous life, one of my greatest advantages in the world of work was my speed. If you e-mailed me, I e-mailed you back. Pretty much instantly. Occasionally it might have to wait an hour or two (I was, after all, spending a lot of time in dark rooms back then). But not more than that. I didn’t sleep a lot. I was up several times a night. And if you e-mailed me, I replied. If you asked for something and I couldn’t provide it instantly, I’d tell you when I’d get it to you. And then I would. I worked in a world in which speed mattered, and in which people were responsive – to phone calls, e-mails, etc. But I was an order of magnitude more responsive than your average bear. And this is saying something.
This was for several reasons: first, a certain innate tendency toward obsessive/compulsive behavior on my part, to be sure. But there was a time when I wasn’t this way. In my first real job in the world in which I spent a career, I had a boss who left me a voicemail one morning, moments before I arrived at work. Twenty minutes later, she dropped by my desk. I had been planning to return her message soon, but hadn’t gotten to it yet. “What have you been doing,” she asked, “that’s more important than returning my message?”
So in the world of work – and friendship – I was, and for the most part still am, the kind of guy who returns phone calls, e-mails, instantly.
For a long time, this was how I was in the world of dating, too. If someone sent me a message on OKC, I’d reply. Instantly. If someone e-mailed, I’d reply. Instantly. If someone texted (or better, sexted) me, I’d reply. Instantly.
Now there still are circumstances in which I reply instantly. If you send me hot pictures, or a movie, or if we’re in the lead-up to a date, you can bet that I’m going to reply to your messages instantly, that I’m going to keep that ratchet going, building tension, increasing anticipation.
But there are others in which I’m learning not to. Sometimes, this is because, actually, it’s often better to think before replying. I never used to do this, but I do now. Sometimes quite deliberately, taking as long as days to reply.
Other times, it’s because, well, that time between when the text or e-mail is sent and a reply is received is itself a time of delicious (or anxious) tension. And that’s valuable in itself. I’d rather you be thinking about, wondering about, just what my response might be, than have you react to it. And I’d rather bask in the time between messages, rather than close the parenthesis by sending one.
Still other times, it’s because whatever I’m doing in life, I’m doing, and not responding to other things.
So if you e-mail me, and I don’t reply instantly (say, in less than 2 hours), you should know that there are three possibilities:
1) I’m thinking hard about how to respond.
2) I want you to be thinking hard about how I’ll respond. I’m enjoying anticipating replying. I want you to, too.
3) I’m busy, unable to reply.
But just so you know, it’s never indifference on my part. THAT’s not how I roll….
AND, I always want you to reply instantly, please. 😉