Every time I hear an outgoing voice mail message state, “please leave a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible,” I cringe.
Whenever I read an e-mail requesting that I respond “as soon as possible,” I smile and shake my head.
It doesn’t seem to matter at what level of an organization the individual works in, this phrase ubiquitous.
It’s also a waste of time, literally and figuratively. Why? Because…
- It violates Leadership & Workplace Communication Sin #1 – A Lack of Specificity!
- It says absolutely nothing and means nothing, it is one of the emptiest phrases in the english language.
- It puts the person to whom it is being communicated to in a state of uncertainty. Uncertainty is one of the worst human emotions we can experience. Why would we want to put another human being in that state?
Additionally, it is simply weak, powerless communication. Or as one of my mentors Anthony Robbins would say, “it is loser language!”
Most often this weak, powerless communication comes from organizational leaders that need to influence others to get things done. Then, they are left wondering why they are constantly waiting for people to get things done for them on time and at deadline (if, necessary).
Communicating in this manner is the cause of three problems in the workplace:
- Mis-communication and mis-understandings
- Low productivity and missed deadlines
Call my voice mail and you will hear a specific commitment for a reply, “I promise to return your call by voice, e-mail or text within 3 hours.”
I get a lot of comments from people who leave a message for me regarding that commitment, mostly surprise, and others letting me know if they call after hours I do not need to reply late into the evening and my reply can wait. Its rather humorous!
You don’t need to have a commitment with as short a turn around as my three hours, but you must give some certainty to when someone can expect a reply. Make it 4-hours, by the end of the day, within 24 hours, by the end of the week, month, etc. whatever, just give people certainty as to when they will hear back from you.
This “as soon as possible” phrase also needs to be eliminated in other areas of our business. Especially when we are making a request of someone. How many times do we ask something of someone with less than a specific deadline, such as,
“Please get this back to me with your comments ‘as soon as possible.’ ”
Or maybe you are communicating with your spouse about coming home from the office at the end of the day and you say, “I’ll be home as soon as possible.” I’m sure this happens often in relationships and we wonder why “communication” erodes overtime in intimate personal relationships.
What does that phrase mean?
How long can you wait to reply? Technically, forever.
“As soon as possible” is in the eye, and within the realm, solely of the person responding. The person, probably you, making the request loses control of the issue and their (your) ability to influence the timing of any response.
If you want to be a more powerful leader and be able to influence people to follow you in a very positive, direct way, lose the phrase “as soon as possible,” immediately. Oooops, I mean, before the end of this week and by that I mean take the first step by changing your outgoing voice mail message by 5pm Eastern time, this Friday, July 27th.
If you’d like to become an even more powerful team leader, or leader of a small business team of employees, you are going to want to join me this coming Tuesday, July 31st at 4pm for my newest webinar, “Avoiding the 5 Critical Mistakes of Small Business Leadership.”
You can register free at this link: www.ChampionBusinessLeadership.com/5Mistakes
’til next time, make it a great week!