The Waiting Game

I want to apologize to all the people in my life whom I’ve made wait for an answer.
Yet another client has just left my office. Yet another client whom I’ve sat with, listened to, counseled, and comforted all because of the lack of returned phone call or email.
The irony is I know nearly for certain that this client will get the job. That guy designated by the CEO to “make it happen,” to hire my client, will, in fact, do just that.
In fact, I can even see that guy’s inbox…jammed with 100, 500, 1200 unanswered emails. I know that guy’s stress; I know the lines on his forehead are getting tighter and tighter as the number of emails grows, as the number of items on his To Do list grows.
The Waiting Game sucks for both parties.
There’s the Waiting from the investor to see yes or no; a waiting when a quick “No” is a helluva lot less painful than a “Don’t know, we’ll get back to you.”
There’s the Waiting on the sponsor, the lover, the buyer, the seller, the doctor.
Earlier this week another client and his partner sent me some internal documents to review; stock option grants, capitalization table, etc. I got the emails on Sunday. By Monday night, when I hadn’t replied and hadn’t even reviewed the attachments, I sent a quick note. “Sorry,” I said, “for not writing sooner. Just want to acknowledge that I got these. It will take me a few more days to have some clear time and space to read and address these.” And then I did just that. By early Thursday I’d read all the attachments and replied with what felt like the appropriate thoughtfulness.
Of course that’s rare for me; I still struggle to be sure to respond, to let the other know what’s going on.
I’m trying though. I’m a pretty good Zero Inbox guy (and gmail’s Send and Archive feature makes that even easier to accomplish).ย But, today, in this moment between sessions, I really connect with the awfulness of The Waiting.
  • Peter Cranstone

    A quote comes to mind “He that can have patience, can have what he will” (Benjamin Franklin) I say this as I sit here waiting to ship our product and it’s driving me nuts :)

    • jerrycolonna

      Easy there. It’ll ship. I guarantee it.

      • Peter Cranstone

        You’re a mindreader – that’s what I told the crew this morning and the customer last night. LOL

        • jerrycolonna

          ๐Ÿ˜‰ and the card in your hand is the ace of spades!

          • jerrycolonna

            Indeed I do.

  • Katharine English

    Ah, Jerry. If only all the people I’m waiting on were as thoughtful as you. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Still, as the mirrors in my house currently remind me every day, “Be not afraid.” I know you know what I’m talking about.

  • Tereza


    I think I’ve spent a lot of years in the hurry-up-and-wait mode, relying on other people to make or break it for me. So if I’m that reliant on an individual, these days I can’t help but think that something’s wrong with me, that I didn’t spread myself around enough so that a non-response wouldn’t kill my psyche. Call it spray-and-pray, distributing your waiting risk. Mind you, I’m not clear that this in fact a positive trait (nor am I assured this is not a pathology of some sort). But I have too much at risk to let someone with a full inbox get keep me from getting what I need.

    On the flip side, I see over the years I’ve gone from — being quite timely in my responses, although perhaps more pained in my decisionmaking — to being quicker to make decisions but quite overwhelmed by the fire hose that culminates from my combined work and home life.

    I am behind in getting back to people and I don’t love it but i’m doing the best that I can.

    What more can you do?

  • panterosa,

    In Instant Access Living we are all far more impatient than ever, and more convinced that faster is better, convinced that our ability to receive and give instant access is somehow a guarantee of our future success. As if the quick response somehow rubber stamps part of our process.

    While synergistic speed is a new gift of mobile living, we can’t have that without acknowledging the time things need to develop in at their own speed. Forcing a flower open doesn’t make it a better flower, for however much we want it open, nor does half baked bread taste like much.

    You acknowledge the frustration of making people wait, as part of the larger cycle of us all waiting in this interconnected cycle. Sun Tsu says in The Art of Strategy that one of the Five Calculations is the systems of time. Perhaps we each need to better manage our expectations and hence manage our limits, thereby having our groups manage limits better. I would think our true wisdom would lie in better assessing what correctly would reflect the time it would take to receive an answer, to have the answer developed enough to be given. Somehow this seems to me to be a synthesis of short term and long term planning and goals.

  • LeahG

    The cousin of The Waiting is The Acknowledge as you mention. Yes, I received your proposal, yes, your report arrived, yes your invoice is processing, thanks for thinking, inviting, including me, no not interested at this time…..

    • jerrycolonna

      Exactly right, Leah. I love the “I received your email but won’t be able to give a thoughtful reply for several more days” type of response. Acknowledgement goes a long way.