Adam Boettiger takes the bus to work, and recently overheard the following:
“You know, Bob really doesn’t do email well. You really should use the phone to reach him.”
“He always answers his email.”
Getting such a busy person to respond consistently, reflects just as much on Maryam Scoble’s email writing skills, so I would hazard a guess that Scott thinks highly of her too.
If people’s opinion of you were based solely on your email responsiveness, can you imagine what they would think of you?
This works both ways, as the above examples show. It’s so easy to be responsive, and if you don’t have time to deal with an issue, be honest about it — to yourself and the other party.
Michael Hyatt, President & CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers, makes the following connection between responsiveness and responsibility (literally: one’s ability to respond):
As I was making my way to the top, my former boss, Sam Moore, used to ask everyone I worked with, “What’s it like to work with Mike?” “How’s he really doing?” “Do you think he could take on more responsibility?” In responding to him, all they had was their experience with me. If I hadn’t been responsive to them, how do you think they would have responded to his questions? “More responsibility? Are you kidding me? He can’t handle what he has now!” It wouldn’t take too many candid responses like that to tank my career.
Yesterday, I sent an email to someone who I don’t know, trying to interest him in my email productivity products and in exchanging ideas. He wrote back to me within a few hours, and his very brief response says a lot:
Hi Itzy — I’m very interested in your product [...] but right now I’m swamped. I may not get around to getting back to you until this weekend.
This fellow is probably busier than most of my overloaded correspondents, but his message says to me:
- Although I’m extremely busy, I am still in control of the situation.
- I have integrity and self-honesty — I don’t fool myself into making commitments I cannot keep.
- I still have time to be cordial and polite, even to people who can’t help me with my current workload.
Was this just a nice way to blow me off? I don’t think so.
Related article: How (not) to provoke a response from someone who gets loads of email