That Impulse to Help

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At least once today, we each will see someone with a need that we can very easily fill. We will know instantly what they need and what we should do. It will be something on the order of a small kindness: a smile, an encouragement, a caution, an answer, a small favor, an acknowledgement.

But our histories and habits will stop us. To avoid some perceived threat (there are many and they follow what is for each of us a familiar pattern) in the situation, we will override our impulse and not follow through with the help.

The good news is that we are neither our histories nor our habits. We can catch those impulses to help and pause. We can then see that following through on these impulses is not a threat but a joy. And we will soon learn that regularly following through is an investment that pays us back again and again.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Email Etiquette Rule #3

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Reading time: 2 min.

Email remains a vital business tool. And, for many reasons, it is one we love to hate. If we all follow a few etiquette rules, email can become much more useful and much less painful.

Here is Email Etiquette Rule #3:

Use one-word tags and short, meaningful summaries on subject lines.

Our email inboxes are so ever-full that we all struggle to get through them. Help your readers see and act on your email with smart subject lines.

At the beginning of the subject line, put a one-word tag that describes the type of request you are making in this email. To help it stand out, write the tag in all caps followed by a colon. Common tags are:

  • ACTION: An email with this tag is asking the reader for a specific action.Help them scan Focus self
    Rewrite and add tags to replies (as needed) and forwarded emails.
  • QUESTION: This email is asking the reader for an answer to a question.
  • READ: This email contains something you would like the reader to read but take no further action on.

Though you might find a need for other tags in your company, keep the set of different tags small for consistency and clarity.

After the tag, include a very brief but meaningful summary of the email. We can usually do this with 3 to 5 words selected to help your reader.

Examples of poor subject line summaries are, “Sales”, “Sales Meeting”, and “4th quarter sales meeting covering forecasts, staffing, and and customer service initiatives.” The first two are too short and generic. The last one is too long and detailed. But “4th quarter sales meeting agenda” gives just enough insight into the topic of the email to help your readers notice and handle it.

Because tags and summaries are so helpful, let’s use them to rewrite the subject lines on replies (as needed) and on forwarded emails.

Smart subject lines make our emails easier for our readers to process.  They also help us keep the body of the email clean and focused. More on that in the next Email Etiquette Rule.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Email Etiquette Rule #2

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
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Email remains a vital business tool. And, for many reasons, it is one we love to hate. If we all follow a few etiquette rules, email can become much more useful and much less painful.

Here is Email Etiquette Rule #2:

No “See below”

When forwarding an email or email stream with perhaps a comment or two and the dreaded “See below”, we are wasting our readers’ time. They have to plow through pages of often repeated, out-of-sequence emails and try to piece together what it all means and what they are supposed to do with it. Many won’t even bother.

To forward an email well, take a moment to describe what is important in the forwarded email, why it matters to the reader, and what you recommend or request that they do with it.

This small investment paid ‘forward’ 😀 will help keep email safe and productive for all.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Email Etiquette Rule #1

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Do=Natural flow of action, We=All Who Matter
Reading time: 2 min.

Email remains a vital business tool. And, for many reasons, it is one we love to hate. If we all follow a few etiquette rules, email can become much more useful and much less painful.

Here is Email Etiquette Rule #1:

Use at most one emotional word per email.

If what we have to communicate is at all emotionally charged for us or for our recipient, we are much better to use email to schedule a live (in person or over the phone) meeting to discuss the issue.

Tempting as it may be to use email to avoid an uncomfortable conversation, don’t do it. Email (and all text) is a very narrow pipe for communication. It can’t handle –even with emoji–the nuances we send and receive in live conversation. We will be much more likely to miscommunicate, misinterpret, and misunderstand each other. And we will very likely fail to resolve the original issue without significant reworking and revisiting the topic.

Of course, we must have emotionally charged conversations. Just not over email.

We can express some emotion over email. If we limit ourselves to one word of emotion per email, we will usually be safe. Examples include, “I am very happy to hear that,” and, “I am frustrated at our lack of progress.”

 

In your corner,

 

Mike

PS: One way to tell if an email is emotionally charged is to ask ourselves how we feel while composing it.

 

Today’s photo courtesy of Free-Photos.

Show Me That You Hear Me

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Here’s a great way to drain away the drama that distracts and upsets us at work and in life: demonstrate that we understand their perspective. “This is what I heard you say. Did I get that right?” Then ask that they hear ours.

Here’s a great way to prolong the drama: try to outwit, out speak, or out maneuver them.

We all want to be heard. And when we are heard, good things happen.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo courtesy of Didgeman.

The Problem Isn’t Between You and Me…

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…or you and them or us and them.

No.

The problem is always over there, on the table in front of us. And you and I and we and they are the ones to solve it.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: We can tell we’ve brought the problem between us because of the ensuing drama.

PPS: And yes, it only takes one of us to realize we’ve made this mistake and to change the focus back to the problem, over there, on the table, ready for us to solve it.

 

Today’s photo care of Pexels.

Suppose We Don’t

Posted on Leave a commentPosted in Leading, Sales and Influence, We=All Who Matter
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Suppose we cut corners? Suppose we feather our nests? Suppose we get while the getting is good? Suppose we compete on price? Suppose we sue? Suppose we press our advantage? Suppose we underpay? Suppose we over promise? Suppose we cut our training and development? Suppose we bait and switch? Suppose we baffle? Suppose we trick ’em? Suppose we get them with the fine print? Suppose we think, “Well, everybody else is doing it, why not us?”

People are smart. They will see. No matter how short-term appealing it might seem, if we proceed with something that isn’t a win for both them and us, it will always eventually be a lose for us all.

Let’s be the ones people choose over and over because we don’t suppose any of those things.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo courtesy of geralt

Do We Say It or Dance Around It?

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It often seems we have two choices. We can dance around each other, never addressing what’s bugging us but fomenting stories about injustices made and received. We can alternatively say bluntly to each other everything we think.

Really, though, we want to say things plainly and kindly.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: The plain part is what we say. The kind part is how we feel when we say it.

How Not To Lose Track of Takeaways

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Reading time: 2 min.

In all the busyness, it’s easy to lose track of what we have agreed to do for each other, that is of our takeaways. Here is a 5-step process that works well.

Recap. End each live, text, or email conversation or meeting with a review of who is going to do what by when.

Confirm. As soon as possible after a conversation or meeting, write an email to the person or people confirming what you have committed to do by when. Note that each person with a takeaway will be sending an email. If appropriate, you can replace this email with a full set of meeting minutes.

Track. Keep a running list of what you’ve committed and what others have committed to you. Copy the commitments you’ve sent and received. If meeting minutes are available, copy from them the relevant tasks due from and to you. Tedious? Perhaps. But doing this makes it much more likely that you’ll  remember what’s been promised. Include “by when” on each item. You can use a notebook with a different page to track each person’s commitments (including yours to them). Or you can track things in an app (like Todoist) and tag those items with the relevant people’s name(s). 

Review. Scan your list every day and pick the items you’d like to get done today and now what you’re expecting from others. This should take about a 2 minutes.

Do. Then do those things you’ve committed to do and, should they forget, remind your teammates of what they still owe you.

And should you find that you can’t keep your commitment, reach out and renegotiate a new what by when.

 

In your corner,

Mike

Today’s photo courtesy of TeroVesalainen