Birthdays are a special time each year, symbolizing how far we’ve come and reminding us that we’re getting older. Celebrating a person’s birthday shows the person you value and communicates that you prioritize your relationship.
One of the simplest ways to do this is to wish them a happy birthday. Birthday wishes make someone feel acknowledged on their special day.
But what happens when you don’t get a response when you wish someone a happy birthday?
If someone does not respond to birthday wishes, you should politely ask if they got your message or greeting card. If so, point out that you are glad and would have appreciated a response.
Most people are accustomed to getting a response after wishing someone a happy birthday. It’s therefore understandable that not getting a reply after sending genuine birthday wishes can feel a little disappointing.
A Face-To-Face Interaction
There are plenty of ways to wish someone a happy birthday. You can deliver your birthday message via phone, face to face, via text message, or through a gift card in the mail. Your ingenuity is the limit here.
If you wish someone a happy birthday face to face, it is highly unlikely that you will fail to get a reply. This is because you will almost always deliver your message during an ongoing conversation, and naturally, a response follows. But what if the reaction wasn’t something you expected?
It is customary to say “thank you” or “thanks” after being wished a happy birthday. However, not everyone will respond according to your expectations, especially if you aren’t close.
It’s best not to think too much about it and continue the conversation if it continues (although the interaction might be awkward).
Note that some individuals may not relay their acknowledgment or appreciation of your gesture verbally at the moment. This does not necessarily mean that they dismissed your birthday wishes. Facial expressions and body language are also forms of communication, and very important ones at that.
Positive body language and facial expressions can indicate appreciation even when words aren’t said. The person may smile, their eyes may light up, their eyebrows may be raised, or they may give a nod of approval.
If someone doesn’t respond to your birthday wish during a face-to-face conversation, you can check for non-verbal clues to tell if that’s their way of showing appreciation.
In such cases, not paying much attention to it may be ideal.
Birthday Wishes Via Text
But what about when you send birthday wishes via text message with no reply? Again, there are important nuances here too.
The first thing you should do is confirm if the person got the birthday message.
Sometimes, the message may not have been delivered, or the recipient may not have seen it. This may be the case when you send birthday wishes via Social media platforms like WhatsApp or Facebook. The other person may also have forgotten to respond. This is to be expected since they may be flooded with a ton of birthday messages on their special day.
On the other hand, they may have received and read your message and chose not to reply. Deliberately choosing not to reply can be considered rude. This can convey that the person is not polite or humble enough to afford basic courtesy. Nonetheless, your good intention or responsibility of wishing them well on their birthday is done.
How you react will depend on your relationship with the person. If you aren’t close to the person, a lack of response, although disappointing, shouldn’t bother you that much, and it’s best if you remain untroubled.
However, if you have a close relationship with the recipient, you may be genuinely hurt if they read your message and choose not to reply.
You may confront the person, be they a family member or close friend, but you must be tactful about how you go about it.
You want to avoid negative, rude, harsh, or disrespectful messages, especially if you haven’t discussed the issue. A knee-jerk reaction can sour or even destroy your relationship.
The first thing you should do is contact the person and try to figure out the reason behind the lack of response first.
For example, you can text them:
“Hi, hope you are well. I wanted to confirm if you received my birthday wishes since I haven’t received any response.”
Ensure that you clearly and politely communicate that you felt hurt by the lack of a reply and would have appreciated some acknowledgment as a simple courtesy.
At the same time, you should also show understanding of the reasons why the person didn’t reply. It may be that the person was not having a good day or is going through something, and they don’t feel like talking to anyone. It happens to all of us.
There are those days that you feel you don’t have the energy, mood, or will to talk to people, even those you are close with.
If you’re close, the person is likely to give you a reason for not responding. You can reply by saying that you understand their situation and appreciate their honesty.
After all, you shouldn’t expect anything in return from your loved ones. It’s best if you don’t hold anything against them, especially if you have already communicated that a response would have been appreciated.
Of course, if you send a message with birthday wishes to a former spouse, they may not reply because they generally don’t value contact anymore.
What If I Sent a Birthday Card?
If you delivered your message as a birthday card in the mail, a lack of a reply shouldn’t be out of the ordinary. A thank you card in return wouldn’t make sense in this scenario. However, you can contact the person to confirm if they did get the birthday card.
Maybe you haven’t gotten a response because the person didn’t receive their mail for several reasons.
If they did receive the birthday card, there’s nothing much to worry about, and you can put your mind at ease since you conveyed your message properly, which was the core motive.
You can take this opportunity to politely communicate that you would have appreciated some form of feedback from them.
This way, the next time you or anyone else sends a birthday card, they will remember to show courtesy by acknowledging special occasion messages.
Katie Holmes is a senior author at everyday-courtesy.com with over 15 years of experience in marketing and psychology. As a freelance consultant, she also supports companies and executives in overcoming communication challenges. Katie is a passionate digital nomad working on her first book on the art of communication.