People Respond to People Who Respond
“People Respond to People Who Respond” -Ashleigh Brilliant.
Ashleigh Brilliant put out a series of postcards in the seventies that carried short, profound sayings. This one was on my bulletin boards and desks for long enough that I can still recall the bright blue background and the saying printed in black, as well as his name.
I thought of it with a new meaning this morning when I was going through Instagram and responding to the people who commented on my recent post of my demolished kitchen. Friends from a while back whom I haven’t seen in years were moved to say something when they saw it. I was happy to hear from someone I liked, and so I responded to that short comment.
I am responding to people who respond to me, and I am hoping they will respond back, or keep in touch in some way. This supports my feeling of identity and belonging, that I know people and they know me.
While social media provide a new version of the principle of people responding to people who respond, it carries over to other forms of interaction. When I invite someone to do something, whether they respond with yes or no, I am more motivated to invite them again than if I didn’t get any reply. If they invite me to something, I will think of them for future activities.
A recent zoom visit to a professional networking group was an example of how even a light touch is a touch that counts. I wanted to attend the meeting, but for the second time in a row, had urgent conflicts that prevented it. Even though my schedule was crunched, I found a way to check in at the beginning of the meeting. When I saw the follow up message recapping the event, there was a line acknowledging those who had popped in for even a few minutes. I had responded by showing up, even just a touch, and they responded by acknowledging that minimal presence.
People who are aware of this, and who acknowledge and validate others, build networks that feel alive and attract participation. One of the reasons I wanted to be at this particular meeting was that I feel appreciation and warmth for the facilitator and my presence expressed that.
It’s not an accident if you don’t feel included or that people are not there for you. It is probably a response to the fact that you didn’t think your reply would be important to them, or that you haven’t been reaching out or keeping in touch. It takes energy to maintain relationships, and we receive energy from being in them. If not, if there’s an energy drain, that’s something else to look at. People respond to people who respond, perhaps in kind?
Being a person who responds comes more naturally to some of us than to others, yet the effect is pretty universal. If you’re going to take a chance, take the one of responding. We all have more to gain by being responsive than we have to lose.
Thanks for reading. Let me know your response!