or pay the price of unresponsive communication
“Hey there, I thought I would check in …”
“It’s been a few days since I sent my last message and I also left you a voicemail, but I haven’t heard back …”
“I don’t want to bug you, but our deadline is in jeopardy, so I was hoping to get in touch…”
Does any of this sound familiar? We are all busy. We are all over-messaged, and there is a lot of competing noise for our attention. But the truth is that there is a cost to being unresponsive. No matter what you do, you must get in touch and stay in touch with colleagues, partners, vendors, family, and friends. And if you’re in a service-based business, time truly is money.
In the marketing industry, the environment can typically be described as rush under a deadline or hurry up and wait, but it’s important to realize what a stalled project can do to your budget and your relationship.
A lack of communication creates bottlenecks, frustrations, project delays, and often a loss of revenues. All the time spent on check-ins, resending emails, and follow-up calls is time that could be spent on someone or something else. And depending on your relationship, you may actually be paying for your lack of communication.
If you are guilty of this behavior, you may want to examine why and try to put yourself in the shoes of those that are working to get your attention. We will admit that we have been guilty of this behavior as well. But, we sincerely try to avoid making others have repeated attempts to get in touch. Of course, we are referring to those contacts with whom you have a relationship. Unsolicited communications, sales calls, and cold-email messages fit into a different category. Regardless, it’s best to be direct and let anyone vying for your attention know that you are uninterested.
Nobody likes to be put in this position, so why do we do it to others? No matter how much you have going on, it’s important to find simple ways to acknowledge the communication, and the best thing to do is to provide a response, even if the response is, “Unfortunately, I can’t deal with this right now.”
Here are some suggestions for keeping the dialogue alive or ending it if that is the goal; more often than not, people would rather hear “no” than hear nothing.
Too busy to provide an answer to a question:
- “I know you need this from me, but I can’t get to it immediately. What is my deadline for a response?”
- “Can I put you in touch with (insert name of someone else) to get an answer as I don’t have the time to get back to you right now.”
Don’t want to proceed with any more communication on the topic:
- “I think I would like to revisit this later.”
- “Let’s put this on hold for now. I will get back to you when I am ready to pick the topic up again.”
Want the person initiating the conversation to go away:
- “Thanks for contacting me. I am not interested in furthering the conversation at this time.”
- “Thanks for reaching out, but I don’t need anything right now. I will get back to you if things change.”
Whether you wish to keep things moving, put them on hold or stop them entirely, it’s important to take the time to deal with communication instead of ignoring it.
There is no reason to create elaborate excuses. Sometimes we feel like we can get more done than we really can, and we have good intentions. Reasonable people will almost always accommodate the situation that is causing you to push something forward. But, if you are unwilling to manage the pipeline of communication with your clients, service-providers, employees, friends, or family, you will end up paying for it later in time, damaged relations, and in some cases, with more money.