Interpreting Silence: What Is A No Response?

by Rosemarie Hardison
No response is a response

Have you ever received silence in response to a message? You’ve probably wondered whether this means something. Well, it most likely does. No response can be a pretty loud response.

This article outlines the contexts in which no response is a response. It also provides a list of means to avoid getting a no response, as well as how to respond in case you’re answered by silence.

Is No Response Always a Response?

Not really! While it is in many cases, you need to rule out other possibilities. Here are two things to do before considering a no response as a final response.

1.    Consider Genuine Excuses

Before you apply the rule, make sure that the person doesn’t have any extenuating circumstances. For instance, they might be busy, having technical problems, or dealing with more pressing personal issues.

2.    Give Enough Time

Give the person enough time before you construct their silence as a loud statement of disinterest. Again, there might be something more important going on in their life at the moment. Therefore, don’t judge after a few hours or even days in some cases.

How to Avoid Getting a No Response

1.    Make an Impression

Make your message appealing in the first place. It can be hard not to reply to a compelling message that generates interest.

For example, you can establish some common ground that raises interest. Avoid sounding needy or boring.

2.    Offer Something to Respond To

People tend not to respond if they don’t know what to say. A great idea to escape that is to pose questions that entice them to answer.

However, beware of asking too many questions because this might scare them away.

3.    Don’t Go Deep

Learn where to draw the line. Remember, not everyone carries your own personal opinion on life, so what you see as common sense, others may find offensive.

Moreover, people typically avoid judgemental acquaintances. As such, you shouldn’t go deep into personal views on religion, politics, or even social matters.

No Response is a Response In Context

There are several contexts in which silence construes a loud statement, including:

1.    Online Dating

This is probably the most popular situation where you may get a no response. After all, it can be a lot easier to ignore a message from an uninteresting stranger.

2.    Relationships

Typically, you tend to expect a response in an established relationship. No response here can be a sign that the other person is somehow upset. Make sure you communicate to resolve any issues before things get worse.

3.    Business Negotiations

Silence can actually be a negotiation technique. In fact, a long interval of silence can be intimidating, which compels others to reconsider offers and maybe tone things down a notch. It’s common knowledge that silence can help you win negotiations.

4.    Invites

No response to invitations is a polite way of rejection. Perhaps, this doesn’t require a follow-up message as the lack of interest is quite clear.

5.    Among Friends

A no response among friends is most probably a sign of disapproval. It might not mean your friend has lost interest in you or doesn’t want to talk again. Rather, it means that they refuse to get involved in whatever is in this particular message.

What To Do When You Get No Response?

Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut guide to dealing with such a situation. However, it all depends on the situation and the context in general.

Assuming that you’ve already given some time and ruled out genuine excuses, here are some suggestions in the different contexts:

1.    Online Dating

You may consider only one follow-up message in case a person doesn’t reply to your first one. That’s, of course, if the person really interests you. Otherwise, don’t even bother with a second message.

2.    In Personal Relationships

When dealing with a partner, you need to communicate as silence can be pretty unhealthy. For starters, you should find out what upset the other person.

Besides, you can always send a straightforward follow-up message. This can be a good way to get to the bottom of the matter to understand the reason behind this stance and resolve any conflict.

After addressing the problem, agree never to use silence as a response as it can be a relationship breaker sometimes.

3.    Business Negotiations

In this case, try not to be intimidated by the long silence. While you should still reconsider your position, make sure that you don’t fall into the trap. Remember that you can always aim for a win-win situation.


A no response is a response in several contexts. However, there are ways to avoid it and deal with it if it occurs. Just make sure you use the method appropriate to the situation.

Silence can mean a lot in relationships, online dating, business negotiations, and even among friends. Make sure you learn when to send a second message and when not to bother.

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