Happy Independence day to all our American readers.
I have been itching to write this post for quite some time. This is about effective communication, building trust, credibility and a reliability around what to do to respond to various forms of communication.
For the last few months, I witnessed a lack of, or rather a major complacency on communications. While working in various finance back office units and international clients, I learnt, to quite an extent the hard way, how to effectively communicate. Language is not a barrier, bad English or grammar or even spellings are not really a deterrent. What is of prime importance is the timing and of course the response in itself.
In today’s world, some of the most used modes of formal communication are:
- Phone Calls
- Snail mail (or written / printed mail sent through the postal services / couriers) to some extent – We will ignore this type of communication for now, as this will not demand a quick response.
We all do that, don’t we? So what prompted me to write this post?
I sent emails, reminders, made phone calls, but people did not revert back, if they did, and said they will give me a solution by the end of the day / by xx day, I did not hear back from them even for multiple days after the point they had said they will respond. I have a habit, I send polite reminders. There were situations where a person missed my email / forgot to see the missed call list. Even after 2-3 reminder follow ups, I did not get a response. Some of these people were close to me, part of my business networks, my providers, my friends and also some vendors.
And then what? The credibility level, trust level, and my confidence in those people just went kaput (dead). Will I be open to reading or responding to communications from these people? Probably till the time I need them. My relationship factor went to zero.
So what should you do? There are some norms, which will establish you as a warm, effective and responsive communicator. Like I mentioned above, the time and the response in itself are critical.
So what should you do when you get a communication? These simple steps below will help you build a strong credibility & trust level with all connected to you. It has to become a habit.
- Respond to every communication you get, provided, it does need a response. This will not apply to communications where you have been copied for information purposes / to mailers, which come in bulk each day. If you missed a call do revert back.
- Your response should happen in a reasonable time, which in today’s business world stands at 1-2 hours. In situation, your reply cannot exceed one day. In our BPO / Back office world, it was considered a sin, to miss a response or not send a response.
- If you did miss this and you get a reminder, do respond immediately with an apology.
- What if you did not have a solution to the requirement mentioned in the communication or you needed more time to ascertain the facts? Send an acknowledgement that you have received this communication and that you will respond to the requirements in xx amount of time. Be as specific as you can. Keep this response requirement of after xx amount of time on your calendar, and make sure a communication goes out, acknowledging that a response was to be given by you. Either give the solution or ensure you ask for more time.
- Not responding is not an option.
- What if you wish to say a no? Say it, staying silent does not help you. We Indians normally find it difficult to say a no, and prefer to avoid the communication with a no response. This will build your trust. Someone is calling you for some marketing purpose, don’t just disconnect, receive the call and say a no.
- If you initiated the first communication, and do not have a response, do send a reminder, at least two. There could be genuine reasons for the receiver for not responding.
- Quite often, an email followed by a phone call actually helps. It serves as a good strategy to evoke a response.
Remember, the timing and the response by itself are critical..
By the way, if you read this and identify yourself with this, the purpose of this post is to bring out a fact, which can help you improve yourself and your credibility.
I agree with u.Effective communication is very important and that too in a time bound manner,otherwise it looses relevance.
I liked your blog article “Effective Communication”. However, I would like to add courtesy and politeness to your list of trust, credibility and reliability. In the first place, it is polite to respond quickly and properly. The Golden Rule is applicable to communication: one should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. In email collaboration it is a good habit to constantly keep the other party informed, whatever you are doing or have done, sometimes just “OK”.
In earlier decades ”a letter is responded by a letter” was a norm. Not much has changed since those days. Just replace “letter” with “email”. When we receive an email question, we begin to write an email answer. However, modern communication provides plenty of alternatives. Instead of answering an email question, I often think “why he is asking that question?” If a person has just sent me an email, he probably is by the phone, too. Phone or Skype works as duplex: you both are connected simultaneously and can resolve even complex situations quickly. Writing an email answer is a slow process.
I have found text message (sms) an effective means of telling somebody that he / she has just received my urgent email to be answered. Especially during the current vacation period sms works well.
Jukka O. Mattila
President of the Educational Branch of Laatukeskus Excellence Finland (The Finnish Quality Association)