Here’s a question for you and I’d like you to answer it honestly (although we’ll do away with the polygraph test, this isn’t The Jeremy Kyle Show):
- Do you currently have an email in your inbox that you should have replied to by now? (I’m talking where it’s been more than a couple of days since you received it.)
- Or a voicemail sitting on your phone from someone you should have called back?
- Or a date to be set for a meeting with someone you should have met by now?
- Or a deadline by which you said you’d get back to someone but you haven’t?
So why haven’t you responded yet?
Looking at it from your side of the table, it probably has something to do with other priorities, full-on workloads, looming deadlines, etc, etc. Those all seem pretty legitimate reasons.
But have you even told the other person that’s why you’ve not responded?
Let’s look at it from the other side of the table using what I’m pretty certain is a scenario we’ve all experienced: waiting in for a repairman.
You’ve had to take the day off work and are now sat there in limbo, wanting to get on with something but feeling like you can’t get started because that’ll be the moment they choose to turn up. But despite being told they’ll arrive some time between 8am and 1pm, it’s now 2pm and the guy is still a no-show. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be thinking any number of things:
- They’re useless at turning up so they’re probably useless at their job too.
- They must think my time isn’t valuable.
- They’re selfish and have no regard for the fact I have work to do.
- They’re going to take up even more of my time chasing them to sort this out.
- They’re rude and didn’t even have the decency to let me know.
- They don’t know their arse from their elbow when it comes to doing business.
- I don’t trust them.
All are negative responses that are damaging that company’s brand – and you can be sure I’ll be telling all my friends about it, so that damage will be spreading further. Plus with Twitter and Facebook at my disposal, I can share my displeasure with thousands in the time it would have taken them to pick up the phone and tell me they’d be late.
So what’s the difference between that and the damage you’re doing to your personal brand from your lack of response?
It takes five seconds to manage someone’s expectations. Even a simple reply to say, “I’m really busy right now but I will get back to you as soon as I can,” will do wonders for keeping your reputation in tact. (Although using it as a stalling tactic and then never getting back to the person at all will annihilate it.)
So go on…take half an hour to reply to those emails, voicemails and meeting contacts, even if it’s to say you can’t get back to them properly yet. The time will be well spent if it stops you getting a reputation as bad as a dodgy repairman!