Monday 29 March 2021

The Silent Treatment

When one attempts to contact another person that one doesn't know, it is always a somewhat daunting task that is fraught with the possibility of rejection. However, I do believe that most of these 'shots in the dark' are made with an understanding that the receiver might not have the possibility to humour the request. In my own experience I have never been insulted by receiving a negative answer to my questions, understanding that it isn't always straightforward to fit in another person's ideas into an existing structure.
However, another common outcome is that one never receives any answer at all. I have always found this practice incredibly rude and it has always negatively impacted my views of the person or organisation.
Having now operated a gallery for a good 18 months, I have received my own fair share of unsolicited requests. Some of these were naturally way off the mark, to the point where I even wondered why they considered contacting me at all, but most of these questions came from good hearted people who had enthusiasm for what I was doing.
Knowing the frustration of not receiving any answer at all, I made it a point to always reply to these requests, even if it was just a sincere-sounding standardised answer that I composed when I started the gallery. These replies have never cost me much time or effort and they were always appreciated for what they were, as shown by the absurd fact that I received some heartfelt thank you letters to these rejections.

A oft-cited reason for not being able to reply to such unwanted requests is a lack of time on the receivers part. My personal experience with replying to these kind of emails made me question this belief. Although it has been frustrating at times, at no point has answering to these emails ever got in the way of any other tasks, especially when I used some type of standardised reply. 
This feeling is reflected in my personal experience of contacting others. There it has always been exactly the kind of people that one would expect to be 'too busy', who gave me a short, yet informative, answer, instead of no answer at all.

This has led me to conclude that whenever you don't receive a reply from someone you don't know, it isn't because they are too busy or don't have the time for you, but that they are not familiar enough with their own standpoints to be able to effortlessly reply to yours. When you know exactly where you stand, it is never difficult or time-consuming to reply to someone's question, especially in a curt manner.
So whenever you don't receive an answer from somebody or some organisation, just remember that most likely that they simply didn't know what to say because they don't know what their own position is.