As communicators, we are tuned into several areas of communication. There is written, verbal, non-verbal (body language, what is left unsaid, etc.) and there is silence.
Today, I am going to talk about silence. There are many aspects of it in our world. There is the “in-person” silence – where the person doesn’t respond. This can happen in a meeting, in a brief exchange in the elevator, and while a broadcast journalist is interviewing you. Doing this during an interview is a great way to get people to blurt something; just look at them and don’t say anything. Most people will feel uncomfortable and try to fill the space. And then there is the phone call or email silence – which, I have to admit, is a personal pet peeve of mine.
We don’t have many rules here at AHA: be respectful, be responsible, be considerate and be kind. Show up on time and prepared to do your best work. Ask if anyone else wants tea if you are making it. And respond to phone calls and emails – even if that response is: “no, thank you.”
There are small considerations that are delivered through communication that are important. We often get resumes from people that are looking for work. We always respond to them ASAP and thank them – whether or not they look like a fit for our PR agency. We often get sales people calling us and sending us emails – we respond to those as well. Often with a “no, thank you” – but we do respond. If we helped a client develop a request for proposal and assist them in choosing a design agency or other service provider, we recommend that our clients respond to each person or agency that submitted a proposal as soon as possible to let them know the outcome and offer to provide feedback on their submission. It just feels like the right thing to do.
If someone has taken the time to reach out to you, respond to them. (Please note that I am not talking about form letters or spam emails to their whole list.) Say thank you for the proposal and that you will review it within the next few days, week, or month. Or say: “Thank you for this, but we’re not interested at this point.” Just acknowledging it will go a long way. It sounds silly, but you never know when you will run across someone in the future. And at that point – you might need something from them. A little bit of consideration today might benefit you in the future. And besides, it’s just the right thing to do.
Great post Ruth. On average, we still get three or four potential clients each year who ask for proposals and then never contact us again. Usually, they are the ones who want something fast. Not cool.
Della – it really is the small things that count. And the small things don’t take a huge amount of effort, but can provide huge benefit.
I have to say that we, at AHA, learn so much from your blog – Della’s Deck — about communication for both our personal and professional lives. Your focus on small, actionable steps that we can take each day to improve communication is of great benefit ….. hope everyone takes the time to read it ! (http://dellasdeck.blogspot.ca/)