Voice mail is one of the best workplace communication technological advances of the late 20th century. I love it.
It can be great for effective workplace communication, mostly, though, it isn’t.
Mostly, its potential is wasted.
Few people use it effectively.
How many times a week do you leave a message for someone whose welcome message proclaims,
“Your message is important to me so please leave a message and I’ll return your call as soon as possible” ?
Then, wait for more than 24-48 hours for that return call?
How many times a day do you here from someone “I’ll get to that ‘as soon as possible”?
Last Friday I wrote about the weakness of the word “try.”
“As soon as possible” is a four word “try” statement.
“As soon as possible” is a worthless, meaningless statement.
Is it part of your vernacular? Is it part of your standard, habitual reply?
It, too, is loser language! It is try’s ugly sibling.
We accept it from far too many people and we are the worse off for it.
We allow ourselves to offer it as a solution to the requests of other’s, again giving ourselves an out if we can’t get to it.
It’s loser language.
How you communicate in the workplace determines your ability to be seen as an effective employee, an effective project manager and possibly even be seen as someone with leadership potential in your organization.
If you want to build trust with others so they believe you to be a person of high character your workplace communication style and habits make a difference.
Begin using more definitive language.
Instead of “as soon as possible,” use language like this:
“I promise get back to you by end of business this coming Friday!”
“I’m not sure when I can get back to you on this, I have some other priorities, is end of business Friday soon enough?”
“You’ll have it by noon!”
Or, for your outgoing voice mail, use what I use: “I promise to reply to your message by phone, email or text within 3 hours.”
Then, you follow through on that promise and do it!
My challenge to you is to change your outgoing workplace voice mail message from “as soon as possible” to something more definitiive.
If 3 hours is too scary for you, use 4 hours, use 24 hours, use 4 weeks. It doesn’t matter the time frame.
What matters is the definitiveness and the commitment to respond.
Everyone gets a reply from me within 3 hours. Everyone!
It’s one of the things I pride myself in and differentiates me in a competitive market place.
Your language should be a positive workplace differentiator for you.
Leave a comment below about your experience with “as soon as possible” and keep the discussion going to improve workplace communication.
’til next time, make it a great week and Communicate With Power!