The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Lifestyle

February 26, 2013

Email, voicemail, text — no response. What gives?

(Continued)

"I need to get better about that," he concedes.

Those types of missed communications — and a lack of response — can cause "turbulence" in a relationship, says Dan Faltesek, an assistant professor of social media at Oregon State University. But, he adds, that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"It can be a little awkward, but you should talk to people about how you like to talk," Faltesek says. "Everyone will be happier when they say what the rules are."

And it'll go even more smoothly, he says, when people are willing to step outside their own favorite mode of communication to those preferred by the person they're contacting.

"Use the reverse golden rule," Faltesek advises. "Treat others the way THEY like to be treated."

An example: Gnitecki, the teacher in Texas, is considering sending a survey home to ask parents how they'd like to be contacted.

Tech and communication experts agree that choosing a primary means of communication, and letting it be known, is one way to improve communication.

Rebecca Otis, content and social media manager at Digital Third Coast, an Internet marketing firm in Chicago, also recommends getting rid of email and social media accounts you don't check regularly. And text messaging, she says, should be reserved for communication that requires a more urgent reply.

Finding ways to prioritize, and receive, the most important messages also helps.

San Francisco-based AwayFind Inc. is among companies that have developed applications that help filter email — in this instance, alerting users to important emails on their mobile devices.

In the end, we can't possibly respond to everything, says Jared Goralnick, the company's founder and CEO, who's also part of a nonprofit group called the Information Overload Research Group, which looks for ways to deal with out-of-control communication.

As he sees it, it's good to be responsive, "but not to set an expectation that you'll be available for everything."

"That's just not sustainable," he says.

In other words, if we're going to keep our sanity, we'll sometimes have to accept the no response.

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