Why Not Responding Pisses People Off

There was this guy at my last job who I constantly made fun of. One day he came to work and you could see his undershirt through his dress shirt. It was a woman’s undershirt with spaghetti straps. We all laughed hysterically at his expense. He shook his fist, cursed my name and swore he would get me.

But I recently came to find that the company was treating him like shit. Pretty much literally. He’s a professional with over 20 years of experience and they had him doing menial jobs. Eventually they put him on a job that an intern could do and handed him a letter from HR that said if he didn’t get it done in a super short amount of time, they’d fire him.

So with no backup plan, he quit.

I didn’t really love this guy, other than the joy that making fun of him gave me, but we shared a common friend and she started telling me what was going on. So I felt bad and started emailing him jobs that I was getting emailed about.

He was very grateful, as I would be in that situation, and said we should all get lunch. I thought maybe I was wrong about him.

But as the weeks went on, I would send him the jobs and include notes like “hey man, this isn’t EXACTLY what you want, but you should consider it for the interview.” I would hear nothing back. Then I would say “hey, how’s it going? Finding anything?” Nothing. And I could feel myself getting a bit annoyed.

Then I heard from our mutual friend who said “hey, can you send the details on that awesome training course you took to that guy?”

And I said no. Straight up.

It would take me time to dig through my email and figure out the name of the course, find the website, send the link and this guy doesn’t even care to respond to my emails. So I’m not going to waste my time.

He could easily be too ashamed to respond to me or be feeling too hopeless to even look at these jobs. Or he could hate me (I don’t think that’s the case).

So he’s basically burned a bridge with someone who was willing to help him; someone who was in a similar boat a little over a year ago from the same company and found a job two months later. AND would have given him any advice he needed, showed him techniques for finding a job quickly, etc. But he fucked it up and probably because of pride or laziness.

Many INFPs I know have the tendency to not reply. In fact, I do the same thing – I’m not going to claim I’m an awesome socialite nor that I’m good at maintaining relationships; I suck at it! But it’s so important to see how we go about closing the doors in our lives and changing that behavior so that we’re not left curled up in the corner, crying to ourselves that we have no friends left or that we can’t get jobs because we don’t know anyone, etc, etc.

Without other people in our lives, we will die. Without people in our lives, we will settle into mediocrity.

So be considerate of other peoples’ feelings. That’s why you were given this awesome sense of empathy that burns like a flood lamp throughout every inch of your soul.

Tell me below or through email, how have people pissed you off with not responding? How have you pissed others off by not responding and what has it cost you?

Update: 6/16/14 This post was not well-received because I sound like a jerk. I’ve created a newer post explaining myself here.

10 thoughts on “Why Not Responding Pisses People Off”

  1. I just came across this post. It PERFECTLY illustrates an incident I had with a colleague.

    Situation is, I was new to this job and from day 1, I was straight away told about this guy who “doesn’t do much”.

    Now, I’m an INTJ, and if there is one thing that irks me, it is people telling me what to think. I like to do my own 380° analysis on individuals before I can portray who they are.
    So, right off the bat, I was giving it all my 400% on the job, having to restructure a department from scratch at the company. I also tried to get to know my colleagues, quietly mingling with them from time to time. The said guy was never and did indeed seem to be “outcast” against his good will.

    About 2 months into the job, I started to notice the said guy lurking around my office, so I allowed him to come closer and listened to his side of the story (“people don’t understand, they don’t know how to go on about things, this job is too difficult, yaddayaddayadda.”). I didn’t think much of it, thinking it was just a passing mood. And I also didn’t have time/energy (do I ever?) to offer a listening ear too frequently, since I was still busy with my duties. I shared some perspectives on how to make it all work for his and everyone’s benefit. As a result, we kept having some informal “hi-bye” here and there and this went on for 6months-ish.

    One day, I got in touch with him to find out how things were going on his side, after 1 month or so of no verbal exchange. I didn’t get an answer, so I assumed he was busy. I later figured out (by analysis) that he was purely and simply “procrastinating” on how to answer back, so he never did in effect.

    A year passes and we are now on “friendly” terms, which to me is more like we have a lengthy discussion once every six weeks or so. But then comes a day when, after making arrangements well in advance to meet up, it all gets cancelled unilaterally with no reason but “I can’t” (WTF does that even mean?). Talk about making me waste my time/energy. So I forget about it all, reboot the “friendship” to time t0 and proceed with my own business.

    A month later, the guy reappears and acts like things can be picked up from where they were left. ERROR. FATAL ERROR. I give him a wordy reminder of all that has failed to happen and clarify that I have other isht to attend. An immediate answer follows full of apologies and all sort of bullisht excuses about “not feeling adequate and having struggles”. Really? I mean, REALLY? Is my life struggle-free because I deal with my difficulties? It’s like the hours and hours of discussion we had NEVER happened. No data was processed at the time by his brain. And judging by his loop-y behaviour, none ever will.

    Now, I need to specify that this behaviour is coming from someone who is almost middle-aged. But judging by his approach to life you would think that he is stuck in a permanent state of hopeful teenagehood, minus the energy to actually dream isht and make it happen.

    Bottomline is: some people will suck your life force and spin it around into a dark energy with nothing but the thread of their existence, or lack thereof.

    Just as you, I did the perfect mental doorslam. As predicted, the guy doesn’t get it, and is still hovering around, looking for whatever grail he will never see. You could give him the “Philosophers’ stone” on a plate, he would toss it in the bin because he is too wrapped up in himself to take a look at the realities of things happenings.

    I wish such people ‘good luck living behind smokescreens’ and hope their fuzzy clouds never fade in the final years of their lives. It would be way too much of a painful “payback” if not…ironic.

  2. Seriously, you made fun of him (no remorse too) and you’re surprised he no longer wants to be in contact with you? You do realise the teasing probably affected his self-esteem, right? And I can tell you, (as someone who was teased in the past) though it doesn’t seem like he hates you, he probably does.

    • Thanks for your reply! Actually, the environment of that office was such that everyone made fun of each other all day long. And that includes him making fun of me.

      BUT, I also hated myself while working there because it was a very ego-centric work environment and brought me away from my values and what I care about. I felt like another person.

      So I’m going to reach out to him and apologize and then send that training information over to him. Hopefully I can still help him in some way.

      • Hmm, well, he may have played along (work environment and all, you have to adapt) but he may not have necessarily liked it. I hope you work things out with him though, just give it time.

      • As an INFP I easily detest people like you.
        First of all if someone is behaving like that towards me and I already have to deal with other problems, I will not consider your help. Also, you just wanted to help him so you could feel better about yourself.
        I would feel stupid if the asshole that made me feel worthless thought I wouldn’t be able to find a job on my own and to not being able to handle things at all.
        There’s no need to lie, you are clearly an extraverted person who’s constantly looking for people’s approval and would never take a bullet. This post just pissed me off. Have fun with your life, ESFP.

  3. So, you constantly made fun of this guy and then get offended when he doesn’t email you back? And you have the nerve to say “So be considerate of other peoples’ feelings.”


  4. Thanks for the reminder!
    The only times that this has bugged me is when I have had someone ask me to do something… and I lost track of the dates, and I have to keep hunting them down, because I am so afraid that I might space it entirely and forget until the week after. 😛 I prefer to getting paid as well, rather than reminding someone…
    But otherwise, I am afraid that I am the one who is the neglectful one. I am great about being there for my friends when they are in need… but that is only if they can track me down. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. #1: I don’t like to the phone. I love caller id. If that number isn’t in my contact list, I don’t answer. If they don’t leave a message, fuggedaboutit. I can’t understand people who call back a strange number just to see who it might be. Are they nuts? Or just too curious for their own good?

    I hate when people leave a voice mail with no details, just, “call me”. Unless is it is a close friend or somebody that i’m curious about. . . Fuggedaboutit. Even if they leave details, I may not call back. I may txt them an answer, but I won’t call.

    I used to get voice mail from a non-profit volunteer type of organization I belonged to about “manditory” meetings. I’d break out in emotional hives! No way am I going to a “manditory” meeting. Those are always bad news.

    Even when family calls, my wife has to pester me for a couple of days to return their calls. I don’t mind talking when we get to talking, but there’s a strange and heavy inertia around picking up the phone.

    Most people who call want me to do something for them. If I talk to them, I’ll get all mushy and cave in because I’m so empathetic. Then I’ll be kicking myself while I procrastinate the hell out of it, hoping the deadline passes. . . ’cause I don’t really want to do it anyway.

    I used to make a lot of effort to follow up with people, send thank you cards to strangers or awesome servers. . . (New Year’s resolution) but I ran out of gas on that.

    What has it cost me? Not much. I have more peace of mind, less guilt about keeping in touch with relatives who irritate me. I spent too much of my life caving in to others “needs” and volunteering for stuff that nobody else wanted to do.

    I used to lend books to people all the time in an effort to keep communication lines open. Kiss those books goodbye. Once or twice I got a book back from somebody years later. Wow! A new book! (With my name and address inside the front cover.)

    Out of all the people that I lent hundreds of books to, nobody lent me one back. Anyway. I’m a non-responder. What goes around comes around. Maybe that’s why God doesn’t answer my prayers.

    • Curtis,

      Sorry about that- the books and the works!
      Don’t give up entirely on people, though.
      When lending out books or movies, let the borrower know that you would love some recommendations back from them as well.

      Really key into what their likes and dislikes are, because if they were just into “The Last Samurai” because Tom Cruise was in it, chances are that they might not be returning your book “The Art of War” anytime soon. They may be too embarrassed to admit that they weren’t really interested for a deep, intellectual level that they assume that you assumed they had for the subject. Refusing equates rejection, returning too soon means an admission that they weren’t honestly that interested in the first place.. either that, or flat out lying that they had loved it.
      And then, what do you know? It gets lost!

      As for the phone calls, believe me, I get it. I come from an entire FAMILY that grew up not knowing how to say ‘no.’ There was only one of us who didn’t dread the phone calls, and that was the person who could hold three-hour long conversations while playing video games, all about video games.
      Bite the bullet. Put it in your planner, or schedule a date… by this time, I am going to say “no” when asked to do something over the phone.
      Don’t let it explode over from years of pent-up volcano frustration. If you need to, say you have to check your schedule, or that you already have something planned that date (which is true- planning to have an evening without any plans to rush off to is DEFINITELY a plan). If it is too much finding a polite and courteous way to say no, always ask if you can call them back. If anything, just to give yourself time to think on what to say, and whether or not you actually want to reschedule this in the future, or never ever ever!

      That is a GREAT point, though… Greeting cards, e-mails, phone conversations, etc. are all important for keeping in touch, and keeping connections. But you’re right, it can’t be about pleasing other people. And it can get pretty exhausting- fast!

      As an INFP, there will be those that are truly close to you… those are the ones that you will continue to make the effort for. But that doesn’t mean you have to send everyone the family Christmas card. For some, it will mean a LOT to track them down on their birthday, for others that doesn’t mean that much, but being available on a particularly rough day might be just what they need.
      Give time for yourself, and for rest! It can be exhausting picking up all those empathetic vibes. 😉
      Just watch it when you start to get burned out about other people. If you need a break, take it! But any time I start seeing others as leeches, I know that I have lost it somehow. Take a break, love on the ones that know you and love you through all of it, and when you re-group, send out a card or call when you think of the person. Not out of guilt, but just because.
      The nice thing about doing it like this, is that it feels spontaneous, and I don’t wait an eternity to connect (and with it, eliminate the make-up HOURS of phone conversation, or pages of e-mail… which I am sure that you can gather that for me, is not all that hard to do- e-mail that is, NEVER the phone).

      All that said, I am notorious when it comes to keeping up with my friends’ e-mails and posts, or requests to get together… Time is so short! Hahahah! And those mandatory meetings… totally relate to that. XD


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