Hey, y'all. I've just returned from spending 3 days in downtown Sydney for a women's conference. My dear, fantastic, capable Jason took care of the kids so that I could go and stay with some girlfriends in a REAL HOTEL. Without worrying about portable cribs and naptimes and where to find chicken nuggets. I adore my little munchkins, but I am not one of those moms who can't bear to be away from their children for 24 hours or more. I can bear it! I promise! Here--let me show you!! It. was. awesome. And the conference was great too! I have lots to say about that, but I'll reserve it for a time when my brain isn't quite so overloaded. Deal? 'K.
I was inspired, though, by my sister Becky's recent post on the etiquette surrounding Thank You Notes. Go read it and then come back. She basically discusses the phenomenon of writing a thank you note to someone who's written you a thank you note, thereby prompting them to respond in kind. Like, "Thanks for thanking me." She calls it a "Gratitude Death Spiral". (She is hilarious.)
But it got me thinking about etiquette and well, social expectations in these crazy times we live in. Specifically as it pertains to email. Yes, I'm about to explain. So at this conference, I ran into a woman that I met almost two years ago in a local park. She was at the park with her kids, I was there with mine, we struck up a conversation. At the time, we really connected. When she asked the dreaded question and I told her I was a pastor, I found out that she is in ministry, too. So we had a lot in common, and it was a pleasant surprise to have this random encounter turn into something significant. (Or so I thought. Sniff.)
At that park day long, long ago, she gave me her email address and mobile number and really went out of her way to invite me to get in touch with her. I mean, really. Well, alrighty, I thought. I just made me a new friend.
So later that week I emailed her, and she did email back within a few days. I basically did the "hi, it was nice to meet you, it would be fun to meet up sometime" kind of email. I mean, I don't wanna look desperate, so I thought I'd ease into it. You feel me? But after that one response from her,and ever since, nothing. I have emailed her several times and seen her at various ministry conferences 2-3 times and she still never answers my emails.
When I see her, as I did a few days ago, she immediately recognizes me and comes to chat--like we are buddies. And I kind of don't know what to say. Like, does she know I've been emailing her and she hasn't been answering? Cause if she does, that introduces a certain level of awkwardness to the conversation, even if we don't talk about it. Or, has she forgotten, in which case me bringing it up would be slightly sad and lame. Isn't this starting to feel like seventh grade? Who am I gonna eat lunch with?
So I didn't bring it up. My feelings aren't hurt or anything--I hope that by now I am secure enough to not take things like this personally. I know there are probably a myriad of things that pushed my emails to the bottom of her inbox where they were forgotten or overlooked. Whatevs, right?
But here's where my etiquette question comes in. At what point do you give up and stop emailing occasionally? I am all about giving people the benefit of the doubt,and sending a follow-up-in-case-you-meant-to-reply-email, but I don't wanna be a stalker or anything. And is it appropriate to mention that you've been emailing when you see the person? Cause I didn't.
I think that in the past,like in the last century, letters or messages were pretty much always answered. If they weren't, then it was a deliberate message to the sender that their correspondence was undesirable. This was a clear, unambiguous response that both sides understood. It isn't that way anymore, which introduces a whole new level of nuance and confusion.
So what's your rule of thumb? How much do you follow-up before you give up? Just wonderin'. Oh, and do you wanna hang out sometime? I'm really nice and fun to be around, I promise.