From personal experience, here are 9 things I have learned over the years that can help make any working relationships more productive and rewarding for all.
They are so simple, yet extremely powerful.
- Cut phone tag to a minimum
When you leave a message on someone’s voicemail, if you need them to call you back make sure to let them know when you will be free to take their call. This can save hours of time and frustration by avoiding phone tag.
For example: “blah blah blah…..if you can please get back to me I will be free to speak this afternoon from 1-3pm or again from 4-6.30pm. If that does not work, tomorrow from 1-5 works a treat.”
- Position the reason for your call
It is extremely helpful when you leave a voice message to let the person know what you are calling about so they can be prepared when they call back.
I often get accused of leaving long voice messages, but I have never been accused of leaving someone in the dark as to what I’m calling about.
This is a great way to make phone calls more productive.
For example, “I’m calling so we can discuss the updated social media schedule we just released. It should take about 20 mins…. “
- Use a welcoming line rather than a ‘do not’
I always find it more encouraging when I am welcomed or invited to do something rather than pre-positioned with a ‘do not’. What do you prefer?
Please do not hesitate to call us if you have any questions.
We would be delighted to hear from you if you have any questions.
- If you want to catch up, name the date
Make sure to suggest a time/date and location if you want to catch up with someone rather than a vague comment such as ‘we must catch up soon’. Soon doesn’t always happen.
Even if you go back and forth to find a mutually convenient time / date, working towards one shows you are committed. For most busy people, if it is not locked in the diary, it is out of mind, out of sight.
- Let me know you have received my important email
If you receive an email that you can not attend to that day (which often happens when you are busy) give the sender the courtesy of acknowledging their email and provide an indication of when you are likely to respond.
This could save the sender hours of frustration and questioning whether their email was successfully sent.
There is a ‘read receipt’ function if you want to be certain an important email is delivered and opened. Not everyone uses it, so it’s good to revert to common courtesy.
- Voice mail can make people feel special
This is a two for one comment.
If we are in a meeting, I should be the most important person to you at that time. I deserve your undivided attention. If you receive an incoming call (unless you already positioned you are expecting a call you need to take), let it go to voice mail. It is ok to do this.
You are working to your agenda, not someone else’s. The caller gets their time when you are free to call them back.
On that note, make your voice mail welcoming. I was told once to record my voice message while standing up looking at the sunshine.
Put your own flavor and personality into to your message, but use it as an opportunity to make people feel special. Every contact counts.
- Let me what you look like online.
You might not be in the market to find a life partner on line, however as a professional you should have an up to date photo of yourself (one that looks like you do today – not 10 years ago) included on your website and on any social media sites.
One of the most popular webpages people visit is the ‘about us’ page – and visitors want to see what you look like – they are not stalkers, it’s human nature.
- The dreaded email list can be a wealth of opportunity
Most busy people struggle with the never-ending battle with their bulging inbox. While others view it as a source of opportunity.
With a little discipline and some great habits you can master it once and for all and use the extra time for doing productive work with ideal clients:
- Unsubscribe to anything that is not of high value.
- Create a rule to auto save subscribed emails to a designated folder.
- Only read and respond to emails at specific times in the day. Close it down at all other times.
- There is no such thing as ‘I’ll just do one email’. One always becomes ten.
- Have a plan B if people need you urgently. A generic business email managed by a team member or a note at the bottom of your emails explaining you only read email twice a day can help.
- Turn off notifications that tempt you – such as a ‘beep’ or the ‘white envelope’.
- Keep the number of emails in your inbox to a manageable amount. Zero is ideal, however you know the number gets your blood curdling, so stay below it. Diarise time to ‘clean up’ if it creeps above it.
You need to be able to plan your day based around your priorities, not other peoples.
- Use bullet points in odd numbers
Apparently we digest and remember content presented in bullet points more easily when they are in odd numbers. Abreena Tompkins research* concluded that odd numbers:
- Help us absorb information better (especially 3 or 5)
- Are easier for the brain to process
- Make a list seem more believable (not doctoring a list to be a top 10)
She also found that we struggle to process more than 9 items in a row.
On that note, my 9th bullet point is my last and I will sign off here.
Until we next meet, enjoy all! Kim
PS. Just so you know, I write all my blogs myself and I am not a professional writer. So if you find any spelling or grammar slip ups, they are a bonus as they were not meant to be included.
*Source: 3 powerful reasons for using odd numbered lists in your blog post titles March 13, 2013 By Steve Davis at Barker Consulting.