Are you like me and hate when people just cannot reply promptly? I think it is just plain rude. No real excuse. Not only is it impolite, it is unprofessional.
O.K., let’s be straight here. I am not talking about leaving a voicemail, social media message, or email and expecting it to be returned within ten minutes—or even six hours—but I think most people should be able to respond to a piece of communication directed specifically to them (not carbon copied on an email) within 48 hours. That is my limit.
For those of you who email or post when I have a rant like this with a question such as “You must have had someone not respond to your call for months and then just call today and say they want something by tomorrow!” Believe it or not—not recently—there is no specific occurrence trigger. It’s just that I was reading an article about professional communications and this came to mind—hence, the TMC this week.
So, let me rant my thoughts and you can tell me if I am off base, bang on, or somewhere in-between.
- When people tell me they are too busy to return an email, phone call, or social media message, I sort of chuckle. I get over 100 emails a day, work with clients all day, take over 100 airplane flights a year, and am able to respond to people in a timely fashion—usually within six hours and never more than 36 to 48 hours.
- People say they didn’t have an answer. Then, at least respond to say you received the message and it will be three days, one or two weeks, or whatever before you can get me the information I am asking for. Be professional and respond providing feedback on whether there will be a delay. Sometimes, my response will be nothing more than, “Got this. Thanks. I am at a conference for the next two days, then away on the weekend. I will have this back to you by the end of next week.” That lets the person know, politely and professionally, when they can expect a response and does not leave them hanging.
- Then there is the “Sorry, I was away on holidays” or “Sorry, I was at a conference for a week. Then I was so busy when I got back that I am just getting around to your message.” My thought—so what century do you live in? First of all, you could have put on an out-of-office message to let people know! And two, If you are at a conference, why can’t you respond to emails at breaks/lunch or during the evening in your hotel room just to say, “I am at a conference for the next two days, then away on the weekend. I will have this back to you by the end of next week”?
- I had a meeting with a lady about two months ago. She had asked for the meeting and I agreed to it. We met. She was excited about the outcome and how we might be able to help her. I was fine with providing services to her and knew we could help, but I was really busy and not going to push it on follow-up. I would be glad to do the work and would make time for it, but was not going to chase it. As always, though, I sent a follow-up email thanking her for the meeting (within 48 hours), letting her know I would be glad to work with her, and that the ball was in her court to keep me up-to-date on the process. There was nothing until about two weeks ago when she responded, “I am ready to roll.” We had no agreement. In the meantime, we had gotten busier. I had to say, “Hey, would love to do this, but I have not heard from you for six weeks. I presumed you were not interested or you would have at least responded to my email telling me it would be four to eight weeks before you had an answer. Then I would have kept some time open to work on your project. So now I cannot start until at least September.” She was not pleased. My reaction—respond to my emails or messages in a timely fashion and you will get results. Leave me hanging and I need to make presumptions. (Yes, I could have reached out, but I did not need to right now. I lost the business, but can live with that, especially if that is the way she responds to messages—six weeks later!)
Thanks. Let me know your thoughts—when you have time, of course!
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