Wednesday, June 24, 2015
At a time when it seems like everybody's running around doing crazy things that are counterproductive to building relationships, here's an opportunity to learn how to start saying things that will lead to more rational actions. The Sisters of Charity Foundation in Columbia, SC is hosting a free webinar to tackle the tough challenges of being able to communicate well. We all falter at some point along the way when we try to express our thoughts, opinions or feelings. We know what we want to say, but somehow, what's in our heads doesn't always come out appropriately from our mouths. Sometimes our thoughts are all scrambled like Legos in a pile on the floor, and we have difficulty coherently articulating what we really feel. There are all kinds of reasons why we fail at communications. In this 45-minute webinar, you'll hear about only four. But in those four, you'll discover how to start to overcome them, and increase your chances of building rather than destroying relationships. You can tune in to this webinar starting at 10 a.m. EST on Thursday, June 25 and learn "The Four Pitfalls of Communications". Register at http://tinyurl.com/p3f96zz. It's a small investment of time for a large return on your personal growth. Join us.
Monday, June 1, 2015
You send out an email to your boss, and you don’t hear anything back that day—or the next day. Or the next two days. Or at all. You leave a message for a coworker, and it seems to have disappeared into a vortex akin to a flushing toilet because all you get back is recycled—silence. You text one of your fellow volunteers to check on a date for the next meeting, and you may as well have sent a smoke signal. Your message seems to have evaporated. Not communicating is very much on the list of poor communications behaviors. Poor communication is not just bad word choices, rude responses, sharp tones or unclear input. It’s also slow or no responses to communications with you.
It’s happened to you, and yes, you’ve done it to others. You’ve neglected and been neglected. For myriad reasons, you excuse the need to be responsive. You’re too busy to answer right now. The message isn’t urgent so it can wait. The message is from annoying Alice in billing and not important. And guess what? Others have said it themselves when they’ve gotten messages from you. If the message or individual isn’t important in the mind of the person receiving the message, it is likely to be ignored.
So what happens as a result? Depending on the request, answers are delayed, progress is slowed down, frustration is increased, and perhaps, the other person will refrain from contacting you in the future because they find you unreliable and unresponsive. You, then, miss out on information that may be of value to you—pertinent information that could be costly if not shared. A dissatisfied customer who is threatening to leave if an issue is not resolved. A job candidate who is also being wooed by your competition, but your company hasn’t been able to close the deal on his joining you. A poor decision made by a lower level leader because you did not respond, and now an unnecessary expense has been incurred. No longer will you be able to complain that you didn’t know or nobody told you. You’ve set a precedence for the way you want people to communicate with you.
Regardless of your reasoning behind why you choose not to respond to emails, texts, and phone calls, there is a more effective way to handle the influx of communications that come your way. It does not require a lot of time, and you can still pick what you will respond to if you set better expectations for those who try to communicate with you. Do it right, and you can be more efficient with your time while not making people feel frustrated or ignored. Try this:
1. Acknowledge messages. Respond with a simple, “Got your message. Will get back with you as soon as I can.” This works if you get an email, text or voice mail. Even if someone leaves a voice mail, you can still send an email or return text of acknowledgement. The response takes barely 30 seconds. We convince ourselves that it’s time consuming to respond; when in actuality, it takes only a matter of seconds to send a quick acknowledgement as indicated above.
2. Ask those who are in contact with you most to alert you to messages of priority by indicating so in the subject line. Use words like: IMPORTANT, TIME SENSITIVE, ACTION REQUIRED. Having them prioritize their messages for you will insure that you don’t overlook what is genuinely important.
3. Respond in a timely manner. After acknowledging that you received their message, then you actually have to take action at some point. Responding within 24 hours is acceptable unless the response can be delayed longer. Establish the proper expectations regarding how you like communications to occur between you and particular people. Communicating is not a one-size-fits-all action. Tailor your communication preferences with those whose requests require expediency.
The bottom line is this: always respond. Never ignore messages that have value. Even if the value is minimal in your eyes. They matter to the person who sent them. When you devalue the message, you devalue the person who sent it. You say to them that they are not worth your time to respond to them. Avoid the awkwardness of this perception and set appropriate expectations. Help them to understand that you respond to messages that require action on your part—not idle chatter. In so doing, you keep communications open and meaningful.