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Once upon a time, not responding was considered impolite and poor business acumen.

Oh, how times have changed. A post on NYTimes.com states a ‘no response is the new no.’ I agree there are situations when not responding is appropriate. If I responded to every unsolicited (and unwelcome) telemarketing inquiry, I would have little time to complete my required work. However, when two parties are already in process for a contract, sales or other business activity, the lack of response by one party is frustrating.

When I write articles, I typically send the draft for review. Most contacts will review the article, provide feedback and return it quickly. no-answer 2Recently, though, I’ve encountered exceptions. One contact has, for several months and reasons unbeknownst to me, stealthily dodged his review of the article after he spent time in an interview and providing background materials. When he errantly sent me a company email, I considerately replied the information received was not intended for me. As long as I had his attention, I then asked if he would let me know the status of his review of the article. Again, there was no response. Not even a ‘We’ve decided not to participate.’ Essentially, I can go to print without his review, but I still offer the courtesy.

It’s hard to accept ‘no response is the new no’ when a process and communication between two parties is already in place.

One example is the job interview process where there seems to be a downward trend. A company brings in a candidate and then schedules hours (or days) of interviews with company representatives. At the completion of that step, the company tells the candidate to expect to hear something in the upcoming weeks. However, nothing ever follows. No courtesy call, e-mail or postal mail message alerting the candidate he or she did not make it to the next round.

The term for this is an “avoidant business culture.” Some people just don’t want to deal with ‘bad’ news.

no answerSo, if one hasn’t heard from a company in three-to-four weeks following an interview, it’s a safe assumption he or she has been passed over. In the end, it may be for the best not to work for a company who can’t be bothered to respond to their own process.

I am unsure when this lack of consideration became the ‘norm’ but it is extremely disparaging. The art and civility of follow-up seems to have fallen off. Maybe courteous responses really were just part of a business fairy tale, a long, long time ago.