I don’t mind rejection but a lot of people do.

When I want to ask someone to join me for a coffee or lunch I always send email. And its all about rejection even though I don’t mind rejection so much. The reason is that nobody can know for sure how I deal with rejection.  And almost everybody hates to reject someone who might have their feelings hurt.

If I ask face-to-face I put my friend in an awkward position.  Because every second she pauses to think about it is an incremental rejection.  Because while the delay could be just because she is thinking about scheduling, it also could be that she is searching for excuses to get out of it.

These considerations combined with her good graces mean that she feels pressure to say yes and to say yes quickly.  Even if she really does want to go.  I would rather she have the opportunity to consider it fully and I would rather not make her feel uncomfortable.

Email adds some welcome noise to the transaction.  It is never common knowledge exactly when she is able to read my email invitation.  If she gets it right away she can comfortably consider the offer and her schedule and get back to me on her own time.  And she knows that I know that… that I have no way of knowing how much time it took her to decide.

Game theorists can’t stop trashing email as a coordination device but that’s because we always think that common knowledge is desirable.  But when psychology is involved it is more often that we want to destroy common knowledge.

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