We’re living in a world of information overload. ‘I’m too busy to respond’ is the most common excuse many of us hide behind to justify our ignorance. Prioritization is essential more than ever with digital workspaces, but not being responsive is not the way to prioritize. It’s a serious pitfall than you think. In this post, I have tried to explain why you should care, what’s in it for you, and how one can improve.
Why should you care?
Do people have to constantly remind you to get your inputs or follow up to get updates on tasks you own?
If this sounds familiar then you should care, because just being responsive in person is not enough. Ignoring other channels of communication except for face-to-face interaction signals disrespect.
This may lead people to believe that either you’re not organized enough to keep track of personal/professional requests you receive or you’re ignorant and simply don’t care. In both the cases, it means that you’re not doing your job that of a co-worker, friend or relative well and that people can’t rely on you. I always encourage people to never let reciprocity be a filter to their kindness, but you would observe that most people behave in a reciprocal way and that means you can’t rely on them either. You should care to avoid this trust deficit.
What’s in it for you?
Responsiveness has always been one of the key attributes of a customer-centric organization and an excellent article on this topic by Srinivasa Addepalli can be found here. It is also the first step towards a people-centric self.
Digital work/personal spaces are a reality today and these are helping organizations/individuals to be more responsive to their customers/others than ever. By being aware of this reality and adapting to embrace it, you can acquire the most important asset – trust. Lack of trust, on the other hand, leads systemic inefficiencies and as you know even states of war. Responsiveness is thus directly linked to growth and prosperity of an organization/community that you are a part of as an individual.
How can you improve?
Look around and you’re most likely to find few people who are good at it. Ask them what they do to manage multiple channels of communication, information overload, prioritization, and motivation to be responsive.
Here are some things that I would recommend.
- Set few minutes of time aside to acknowledge requests received daily. You don’t have to provide your inputs immediately, but inform the sender that you’ll get back to them soon and preferably specify when. If it is to take long, briefly explain why. You may also set up an auto-reply.
- Understand how chat, telephone, email, and face-to-face communication affect your work/life habits. Choose a preferred channel of communication and inform others of the same. Be considerate about the availability of this channel.
- Use digital reminders to help yourself stay on track of tasks you own and requests that are pending with you. It’s your job not that of requesters. Apologize for delays and thank requesters for sending reminders. If you find yourself being reminded too often, convey clearly when the requester can expect a response and request for an extension if there be a need.
Welcome your responsive self, today. Feel free to comment and provide additional insights or feedback.