Wait overnight before replying

Tom McCallum
4 min readMay 8, 2018

**first a note..historically I have posted “Writing I Love” posts on Tuesdays, and “Movies with Meaning” posts on Wednesdays. Effective this week, I’m iterating a change. My writing and movie posts will continue, simply on weekends, leaving Monday to Friday for evolving in my usual eclectic way my themes and posts around #OpenLeadership

What if you waited at least overnight to reply to all your emails and messages ?

What Tom ? Are you crazy ? I can’t do that !

Really ? Yes…

Prominent uses of messaging apps (Whatsapp etc) only came in the last 5 years. Emails only came into regular use less than 25 years ago. Before that, we had faxes for about 15 years, and before that, we had (gasp) “snail mail”. We even used to use the phone rather than texting people to communicate. Really, we did, I promise you.

I started my working career in 1986. We hand wrote letters on yellow ruled paper and sent the drafts in vacuum tubes to the “typing pool”, then when they came back up we signed them and they went to the mail room. Faxes were occasional, so phone calls were frequent both internally and externally. Changed days, and not all change is postive progress.

Our world is moving so, so fast, and all too often I feel we sacrifice quality for quantity, speed for thoughtfulness. The results ? All too often more does not mean better, sometimes “less is more”.

Think for a moment. Who are the wisest, most sage people you know ? Now, who are the people you know who take the most time to patiently listen to a conversation, who often speak last in a group, who then seem to have something to say that everyone listens to ? I often see a real correlation there.

Our electronic conversations (notably email and messaging) encourage us to reply instantly, to give both ourselves and the recipient an instant fix. It is like being in person with someone and the two of you reply to each other without taking anytime at all to sit with questions asked, to process. Social conversation can be that back and forth, that “banter”, but sometimes there is real power in allowing space to develop, to say nothing, to sit with another while they consider a question, to marinate, to process.

When I am in the role as a coach, often I will sit in full presence and listen deeply for a long time, with only occasionally “taking the mic”, and then to ask a story or inject a story to…

Tom McCallum

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