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Advice / Succeeding at Work / Work Relationships

3 Irrational Thoughts You Have When Co-workers Take Too Long to Respond

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I overthink everything.

It’s just my thing.

And even though I know I do it, I still get caught up in my head. Let’s take “communication at work” as an example. Whenever a co-worker takes too long to get back to me—and too long can really range depending on the situation—my mind starts racing and I assume the worst.

If this sounds like you, read on to see if we share the same irrational thoughts, and if so, what you can do to make yourself feel better (and saner).

1. Uh Oh, Did I Offend You?

And are you currently talking to HR?

I like talking, and as a result, I often send long, unwieldy thoughts that sometimes take me more than a few messages to articulate. And sometimes, I worry that somewhere in all that text, I’ve said something that offended you deeply. Cue the panic.

But Instead…

I could avoid this “panic moment” altogether by taking a deep breath before I send the initial message and collecting my thoughts. The more concise I am, the more I stay on point. And the more I stay on point, the harder it is for me to slip in something unintentionally offensive.

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2. Do You Even Like Me?

We’re at work. I know that most of the time, we should be working and not rapid responding to our messages. But when I don’t hear from you right away, I start assuming that you don’t like me. And because you don’t like me, you’re not going to get me that report I need (at least not right away), and my project will be delayed, and the downward spiral of my career will commence.

But Instead…

I should focus on the facts. And the facts are that we don’t always share the same priorities—even if we’re BFFs. So when I request something in the future, I should also ask when the person thinks they’ll be able to get it back to me. That allows for the recipient to send a quick response, which in turn, helps me not to go through this.

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3. “Am I About to Get Fired?”

Run a Google search for “signs that you might get fired,” and you’ll probably find one thing comes up more than anything else: You start getting shut out of important meetings (or communication altogether),

So the most extreme (and I know, irrational) reaction I have when you go silent is that you know I’m about to get kicked to the curb and somehow you know.

But Instead…

It’s important for me to, yet again, take a step back and ask myself why I think my job could possibly be on the line. Unless I have a solid reason to think that, the best thing I can do is send up a follow-up email (assuming it’s been more than, let’s say, five minutes) and ask when I can expect a response.

The Most Effective Way to Follow Up When You Need a Response ASAP

There’s one common thread throughout this entire article: I need to stop jumping to conclusions and instead start communicating more clearly. The more clearly I communicate, the less wiggle room I have in my brain to panic. And the less I panic, the happier and more productive I am.