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The Reciprocation Conundrum
I wanted to point something out and ask you guys what you think. While my example is specific, I am sure it applies to everyone in some way. It has to do with dealing with people when there is an unknown or unreasonable expectation. Let me be specific as to the one I deal with regularly:
I get a ton of emails. As in hundreds on a regular basis. When I got back from Haiti, it took me 2 days to just go through all the ones I didn't read in the field.
No matter how good my intentions are to treat everyone with respect, answer their questions or help them out, it is physically impossible for me to sit down and answer every email I get. I have also learned that even when I do answer them, it only encourages them to email more, and in the past when I have attempted to answer emails, I can sit down, answer for a few hours and have more than when I started.
So, in order to deal with this, I have established a few governing email rules, that I will only answer certain types of questions and the rest I simply have to let "fall" by the wayside.
I am learning there is a huge problem with this…. the writers of these emails often "take offense" and become upset with me because I didn't respond. There have even been several instances in the past where a blog reader / forum user suddenly goes from having a positive attitude towards me, to suddenly becoming negative, and even opposing what I am trying to do. In fact, some have gone from supports to "haters" without me doing a single thing. I can name 4 off the top of my head.
I believe this happens because there was an expectation for reciprocation that wasn't met. Sometimes I have no idea what people expect from me and I do not think it is reasonable for them to take offense because I do not react in a way they were expecting. It's been going on for a couple years now, but it is so consistent I see I need to find a solution to it.
I know exactly how it feels to be on the other side of the fence as well. I have contacted several, several photographers to invite them to judge the photography contest or participate in other ways…. 90+% of the time, I never hear anything from them, but I get it, they, like me…are very, very busy. Still…I do not get bent out of shape about it, and this is something I wish readers would understand.
So the conundrum is this: How is it possible to lower or not meet expectations in such a way it doesn't offend people? Or is it just necessary to accept the fact that I will upset them, even when I really do not mean to?