When I was recently asked what floats my boat in the world of business relationships, I answered so quickly that I was fascinated at what came out of my mouth. I said, “when people return my phone calls and emails.”
I don’t ask for much in this world, really, and yet when I realized that people who are courteous enough to reply to me acknowledge that I am worth the time of day to them. Little things do mean a lot to me, and while it may seem insignificant, let’s examine how returning phone calls and emails increases personal productivity.
When we call to talk with someone, it is usually for a reason. We seek information, confirmation, or to establish the next step. Although a call is usually more urgent than an email, both are seeking the same things. So when you send an email, or leave a voice message, the first thing that crosses your mind is when will they get this information?
As time passes without any acknowledgement from the receiver of your message, you begin to wonder if they even got the information. Now you don’t want to look like you forgot them, so you call again, or send another email. “Did you get my message?” Time passes and you begin to wonder if technology is working, or is the receiver just ignoring you.
You may try a few more times, and then give up. Tenacious sales people will call a hundred times until they reach you, and by then you are so tired of their calls you really don’t want anything to do with them. On the other hand, what if the receiver is ill, on vacation, in meetings, or died? Maybe I should call again.
Now imagine that the email was replied to with, “thanks for the information, I will get back to you by Friday.” Well, all wondering ceases to exist and you wait until Friday before the process begins again. You can actually concentrate on other tasks and free your mind of thinking about this person and whether they received your message.
What floats my boat in business relationships is a person that respects their own time, as well as my time. When they take the seconds necessary to reply to me, it saves us both a lot of wasted time and allows us to both be more productive. It is also something we used to call common courtesy. Oh dear, I’m revealing my age again.