How To Handle the Digital Cold Shoulder
When to follow up and what to ask
Let’s set the stage.
You get involved in a LinkedIn conversation (as they say, you should). You pick a post to comment on — it’s someone you know and there are hundreds of comments, all with responses. Some comments are better than what you’re trying to say (but others are a lot worse). You’re responding to the theme, and in a positive way, and yet you get nothing.
The same thing happens every time you tag certain people across LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter. Nada.
There’s no denying that you’re getting the digital cold shoulder.
Does this even matter since the world is on shutdown? Of course it does! More than ever, people are relying on their online networks. It’s no time to get upset or put off when you get the cold shoulder.
So you try again and nothing.
Maybe they missed the post?
Maybe they’re too busy?
You should also consider:
Maybe they don’t like you.
Maybe they don’t like what you’re saying.
Maybe there’s a small touch of the green-eyed monster going on.
Regardless of the reason, the next move is on you.
What to Do When You Get the Digital Cold Shoulder
You could imagine it’s one of the first two reasons — missed your comment, too busy — and maybe it is. I’m not perfect at responding to LinkedIn comments (though I do try and acknowledge them with a like). On Medium, I’ve been a bit slower to react, but I’m getting there.
Maybe your cold shoulderer is just finding their footing.
My invitation rule applies here: If someone rejects you twice, then they’re just not that into you. If you invite someone over to your house twice and you get polite rejections, then leave them alone. There are billions of other people in the universe. Why keep barking up an empty tree?
This is particularly relevant for commenting on other people’s posts. If you don’t even get an acknowledgment after two attempts then about-face and start bothering someone else. That’s my advice.
Super influencers on LinkedIn have thousands of people commenting — who are you even trying to speak to there? Honestly, it’s not worth getting upset when you don’t get a response.
Should you ask them why they’re not responding?
Unless it’s a good friend and someone you see regularly, my answer to this is no.
First, no one is obligated to interact with you online. It’s nice when someone does make an effort, but no one owes you a response. No one owes you anything in the digital sphere, full stop.
You can’t just expect a reaction, you have to earn one. Self-entitlement is a fallacy on so many levels in life. I’ve worked with people who assumed that their business should work because they believed in their product, but that’s not enough. You have to prove that it works.
Walk away and find another conversation for your efforts.
Secondly, a like or a comment is helpful, but it can’t be your sole indicator of success. These are often vanity measures. Your indication of success needs to come from within.
You also need to allow yourself not to be liked or acknowledged and know these aren’t crucial indicators of validation. Relax and do what you do best without seeking these tiny pieces of approval — and they are little.
So what should you do?
Analyze. Is the cold shoulder coming from one source and not others? Then you know it’s time to ignore. Is the cold shoulder coming from everyone? In which case you might need to start rethinking your comments and content.
Are you also giving the cold shoulder? If you don’t respond to people online, then you can’t expect others to.
Re-direct. Spend your energy where it can do the most good. If you’re continually adding low-value comments to people’s posts, maybe it’s time to send them elsewhere. Or, up your game and make more quality-filled comments.
Celebrate. You’re you and you have things to say. What’s useless input on one platform could be gold on another. You can always create a blog and turn your disappointment into a story like this.