Derek Sivers

Persistence is polite

2000-05-07

As teenagers, we learned the hard way that if you contact someone and they don’t reply, they’re just not into you. If you keep trying, you must be a total loser.

But in the business world, it’s the opposite. If you don’t keep trying, you’re a loser!

If someone doesn’t get back to you, it probably wasn’t intentional. Everyone is busy, and their situation has nothing to do with you.

Imagine two different scenarios:

  1. Someone doesn’t reply, so you get upset and decide they’re evil and clearly meant to insult you. You resent them for life, and speak poorly of them forever.
  2. Someone doesn’t reply, so you assume they must be swamped in work. You wait a week, and contact them again. If still no reply, you feel sympathy that they must be really overwhelmed. You wait a week, and try again. If still no reply, you try to reach them a different way.

Now, which one was rude, and which one was polite?