Donna's blog on coaching, leadership, and life

Archive for July, 2007

Active delay

Interestingly, in just the past few days, several people have mentioned to me that they’re frustrated with people not returning their calls and/or emails promptly. Perhaps it’s the season. Summer in the northeast—being so short—tends to slow things down a bit. I’m one of those people who, short of an email or voice mail falling through the cracks, will call you back even if I don’t have anything to tell you. Which leads me to what I want to share with you today.

Perhaps you’re not prepared to return an email because you’ve not had an opportunity to complete what’s been asked of you. Or you’re not quite sure of the answer you want to provide to a question asked. Or maybe you’re simply swamped with higher priorities. —All of which understandably may cause a delay in your responding.

Why not offer an active delay? A quick voice mail or a one-line email acknowledging the other person’s outreach and your intention to respond as soon as you’re able, or prepared to, is a powerful piece of communication. Consider offering a specific target date for when you will respond, and then stick to the plan.

Promptly returned messages offer us an immediate opportunity to service our clients, colleagues, and internal and/or external customers. It says: I hear you, and you matter. And everyone wants to be heard and to matter.

So when you find yourself setting aside an email or message because your ability to fully respond may be delayed, why not offer an active delay? Even in the midst of high demands, you can be building trust in your reliability.