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You’re Moving to the Bottom of My List

I gotta tell you about a conversation I had last week.

Bob (not his real name) works for a company whose goal is to be exceptional with client communications.

(I bet your organization has goals similar to this too).

We were in a group, discussing communication challenges when Bob spoke up and shared his problem with procrastination. He admitted to moving client requests to the bottom of his email list when;

a.) The work isn’t something he enjoys doing.

b.) He doesn’t want to “create an expectation of responses with the hour or quarter hour.”

A few others in the group chimed in and admitted that they struggled with procrastination too.

There are probably lots of ways I could’ve addressed this with him. I could’ve suggested ways to organize better and prioritize his inbox. We could’ve talked about setting specific times to address emails and talked about setting reasonable expectations with clients.

But that’s not what I did.  I asked him this instead;

How would you feel if you knew the professional you were reaching out to with a question or for assistance moved your request to the bottom of his/her list? On purpose.”

That got everyone’s attention.

Can we create a culture of exceptional communication if we move our clients to the bottom of our lists?

A few mumbled responses.

I know how I’d feel if I knew that a professional I was seeking help from put me at the bottom of their list.”

Silence.

It would be easy to paint Bob as a bad guy here, but the truth is, we’re all guilty of this in some form or another. We put people off, ignore, or even worse, forget requests from others. What made Bob exceptional in this conversation was his willingness to admit his struggles openly.

 

I don’t have a quick fix.

 

Our inboxes and our lives are complicated. We have to prioritize requests, work, life, etc. We’re also human, which means we won’t get it right every time, so striving for perfection is a waste of time.

What I am saying is that we would do well to  remember one thing before we decide to move an email to the bottom of our lists;

 

There’s a person on the other end of that email.

 

If you want to be exceptional, treat other people exceptionally.

 

 

How many times have you moved a request or question to the bottom of your list?

 

PS

“Bob” gave me permission to share his story here, in the hopes that it might be helpful to others.

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