RAB Research Archive

I Was Wrong



For the communication loop to be complete, there must be a sender, a message and a recipient. Sounds silly to even point that out. We learn from our mistakes, and recent events have caused me to evaluate the effectiveness of my communication and I could possibly help you with yours.

A rule I used to follow was that if the sender of an email explicitly asked for a response, I would give one. If they were just sharing information, I would either act upon the information or file the email away as read. Here is the problem: the sender would have no idea that I received it. Think about phone conversations. When someone was telling you something, you would acknowledge what they say. I recognized that my previous email strategy was not fair to the sender because I didn’t close the communication loop or confirm receipt – whether they asked for it or not. Now I respond to all personal emails (spam and solicitation emails not included), even if just to say, “Thanks, got it,” or “Great stuff!” Of course, if there is more response needed, I provide it, but that’s my minimum now.

Email is NOT my favorite form of communication, nor is texting, for a myriad of reasons. One rule that I do still follow is that if there are more than three emails or texts exchanged in a brief period, I pick up the phone and call the person. Nothing better than an actual conversation. As a result of recognizing that my communication efforts were not as effective as they could be, I have some suggestions for effective email communication:

• Respond to all personally addressed emails, even it's just to acknowledge receipt – that’s common courtesy. Response time should be no more than three hours or sooner if it is time sensitive.

• Be as brief as possible in email – no War and Peace novels. The purpose of an email should be to engage in a discussion, not to have all the dialogue electronically.

• Be very careful about “Reply all.” When someone shares something in a group email, it can be annoying to have every team member “Reply all.” Respond only to the recipient in most cases, unless it includes individuals that are part of a particular project.

• If you are angry or in a bad mood while responding to an email that has caused this, write your response. Save it in your draft folder and read it at least four times before you send it. In my experience, 99% of the time you won’t send it at all, and the other 1% of the time you will dramatically change the response after you’ve gotten it off your chest to your draft folder.

• Interpreting tone of voice is difficult in email due to the inability to see facial expressions and hear emotions. Be very careful when dealing with sensitive subjects. If possible, pick up the phone or have the conversation face-to-face (or use a visual platform) to avoid being misunderstood (Or see the above tip).

• If a client/prospect emails you a question that you don’t have the answer to, rather than just spend the time it takes to find the answer, immediately acknowledge the question and tell them you need to research the answer. Give them an anticipated timeline for a return email. “I appreciate that question. I need to research the answer for you, I will respond by 4 p.m. tomorrow with the answer or an update.” Or something like that.

Communication feels more effective when following these basics. We all want to be heard and understood. For sellers, people buy from you because you understand them, not because you make them understand you. Your understanding increases exponentially when you listen, respond and engage. We’d love to hear your communication tips. Shoot me an email here. I’ll respond.

Source: Jeff Schmidt, RAB





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