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Don't Fight Your Mind
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The Rule of Correspondence
How Many Acknowledgments?
ResponsiveOne of the many little things I'm proud of is that I respond promptly to email; in other words, I have the virtue of being responsive. That's the idea, anyway; the reality has some nuances.
Being too busy—or being overworked, if we're talking about work—is probably the main cause of being unresponsive, both for me and for other people. Does that mean that my supposed virtue of being responsive is really just the “virtue” of not being overworked? Yeah, pretty much. On the other hand, one does have some control over whether one is overworked, so there's still some virtue there.
I tend to think about being responsive in terms of work, but the idea really does apply to all kinds of email.
Speaking of work and of getting responses, a word of advice: if you send a question to a group of people without naming the one you expect to answer, you are doomed. The recipients will surely all just sit and wait and hope that someone else takes care of it. If you don't know who has the answer, you just have to guess.
So, anyway, we have the words responsive and unresponsive to describe whether someone responds to email, but what if we want to talk about whether someone initiates email? Well, for that we can use the more general words active (proactive) and passive. Then we can look at the combinations! There are three that form a spectrum and one that's rare or maybe doesn't even exist.
I try to be active regarding things I'm responsible for, so I'm usually either an AR or PR.
Finally, just as the general words active and passive can be specialized to talk about email, so can the (temporarily) specialized words responsive and unresponsive be generalized to talk about other forms of communication and interaction. I probably already gave that away, but I thought it would be nice to spell it out. For some reason, though, I rarely think about being responsive in connection with anything but email. Probably that's because in most other forms of communication you can't get away with totally ignoring people.
@ July (2013)