This is an extension of Communication skills rant, part one. I continue to rant, and then elaborate on some points from rant number one. I may repeat myself a bit but it may just sink in a second time around. I really like to hear from people but sometimes they get in the way. I'm trying to listen!
If you are in business, legitimately, you should call from a phone that does not block or hide your phone number. We have a policy of not answering any blocked calls because the people that are truly wishing to communicate with us will follow some very basic courtesies. Number one is letting us know who you are. It seems odd that one would block their number on a business line. Number two is not calling from a cell phone when you know there will be spotty coverage, and then call back more than once if the call is dropped. Simply call when you are in a place that has sufficient coverage and also in a place where you can hear the other person. It is rude to force the other person to continuously deal with your broken, sporadic, noisy phone calls, just to accommodate you.
Some people I know would never dream of skipping or missing a call. I understand that to a point. People that really want to communicate with me will find a way that is most effective. If I want to speak with someone and they ask me to use a certain method, why would I not use that method? My goal would be communicating so I would use whatever method worked best for the one I was trying to contact. My personal preferences would never be a factor. Question your motivation when communicating with someone. What is it that you want? Convenience? Mobility? Information?
I am not sitting by the phone listening to messages as they come in. In fact, I avoid it like the plague. It is distracting and very inefficient. I cover a lot of ground in one day and listen to voicemail in regular intervals. Some people don't know how to leave a message so I'm going to extend this rant to include some basics. Tell me who you are, what time you called, and — what you want. Is it recess? No, so don't play tag. Give me something to write down as a note so maybe I can actually call you back with an answer instead of calling to ask you what it was you wanted in the first place.
Do not assume I'm anywhere- period. If I'm able to answer the phone, I do. I also do a few things occasionally during a regular business day. Some I don't need to divulge here but some are pretty simple. I go to my mailbox. I park my car and sometimes at a meter that needs to be fed. I actually go out to get food to eat—and sometimes it may not even be "lunchtime". I also visit clients and make presentations, so those are some times when I am not in and just can't answer the phone.
The most efficient and effective mode of communication for me in business is e-mail. I can organize it, file it, make notes, retrieve it weeks and months later to check details. I can flag it as a reminder or move it to a specific client folder to keep it in order. I also have it in front of me most of the day. I know, some of you get nervous that "no one is there" if you don't hear back right away. Or, maybe even a whole day without response. There are those times where it may not go through for a variety of reasons. It is at that time, when you suspect an e-mail may have not gone out correctly, that you should now–PICK UP THE PHONE... and follow up. If it is a concern, follow up and make sure.
Don't make me work to understand your e-mail
Communication is powerful and we have many tools at our disposal these days. Regardless of your favorite gadget, remember the goal is to give and receive information and communicate.
Cryptic phone messages and e-mails that rely on the recipient to "figure out" that they should consider the subject line as the introduction, and/or they should go fishing through a valley of responses from someone else's forwarded messages, is inconsiderate and quite frankly, counterproductive. Especially if you seek a timely response.
How long does it take to be clear? "Hi, *whomever*, I'm forwarding this message from *person*, please see below". Then, leave ONLY the message that matters- not 20 responses from someone I don't even know. Do you want to wade through some incredible string of messages, headers, salutations, etc.? Probably not. Neither do I.
You never responded to my e-mail
I've gotten phone calls from some very annoyed clients telling me they sent an e-mail that got no response. They are usually e-mails that have nothing in the body and the subject line is something like, "Need information on the project". So- I look and think- hmmm, no message, they must have forgotten to include the message. From there, I leave it up to that individual to be responsible and actually make the effort to write a few words. What the heck, even if it's "give me a call". ;-) Not really. We all have places to be and things to do. Just ask the question...
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