Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to get your voice mails deleted.

I haven't blogged in a while. There, I just broke one of my main rules of communication. Nobody checks my blog (or any blog, or any communication) to see how long it's been since the last one. God willing, they check it to get the incredible content and insights that pour out of me like living water from Heaven. So never start a blog like that. I'm going to share some of my thoughts on business communication today.

I do a lot of communicating in my daily work, as I am sure all business professionals do. E-mail, text messages, cell phones, voice mail, social media, there are countless ways to communicate. Why, then, are most people so darn BAD at it?

E-mail is a target rich environment when it comes to infuriating communication practices. I constantly get e-mails from colleagues that go something like this: "There is a meeting tomorrow at 930 am for everyone involved in the Jones Project. Sorry for the late notice." This especially gets to me if the email is from someone higher up the ladder than me. Please don't apologize for calling a meeting, it makes me think you don't know what you're doing! And if you're in charge around here, that in turn makes me even more nervous. Just tell me when the meeting is. I will go. You apology does not lessen the inconvenience of telling me 12 hours before a meeting that there is, indeed, a meeting.

I also get a lot of e-mail retractions. Have you gotten these? "Please disregard my previous e-mail about the missing stapler, it was under my desk all along." And if they add an apology, it's a two-for-one sale! Less is more when it comes to most communication, and especially e-mails. We all get way too many of them as it is.

Voice mail violations abound as well. Never, ever leave me a voice message that says something, "This is Jerry Thompson. Please call me at 222-1155." If you aren't my boss, spouse, or the CEO of the company, I will delete that message so fast your head will spin. Please, please give me something to work with. What is the call about? When I return your call, what should I be prepared to discuss? Help me help you, Jerry. "This is Jerry Thompson. Please call me at 222-1155. I'd like to schedule a meeting for June 3rd." Or, "I'm calling about your help wanted ad." Or, "I found your missing wallet." Something like that. Those calls I return. Of course, the opposite is also true. Don't ramble on and on on my voice mail. A happy medium is what we're shooting for, just enough information to get me to return the call.

I won't get started about Facebook posts. Suffice it to say, only a chosen, elite few make it to my news feed.

A great rule I found somewhere advised to frame your communication thinking of 3 distinct phases: HEAD, HEART, and HANDS.

HEAD: What do you want the person you're communicating with to think about?
HEART: How do you want them to FEEL about this communication?
And HANDS: What call-to-action are you expressing? What do you want them to DO after getting this message?

That one works best for me, as it's only 3 steps and I can remember 3 steps.

The best advice I can give when it comes to communication of any kind is THINK before you speak. Or text, or type.

Sorry about that.

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