Being Responsibly Responsive!

July 18th, 2012

Being Responsive may seem so….well, obvious. Having a sense of urgency is important, but this is more than simply a matter of manners or etiquette. Although in this day and age, you might call it old-fashioned. For me that is why Being Responsive is such an important core value. When you are spoken to you need to respond. Don’t ever ignore your spouse or someone special to you unless you truly want what happens when we choose to ignore. You might get something along the lines of:“Hello? Are you listening? Are you going to say something…anything?”

Today communication is everywhere. It is constant, and never, ever, ever stops. IMs, texts, emails, voice mails, portals, social media. We all try to play catch-up. But being responsive is such a personal measure. And frankly, every person, work team, business unit, even company have their own unique pulse on just what it means to be responsive.

My family was recently vacationing at our favorite beach spot. We were excited to go to a restaurant that held special memories from our first visit many years ago. We were sat at our favorite spot with a terrific view of the water. No time pressures, and no places to be other than with each other. This was what we wanted to do!  Then, we sat….and we sat…and we sat some more. As we tried to make eye contact with the servers, they ignored us. We kept sitting. Then, we asked for a server to come over to the table at the hostess stand. “No worries,” we thought, “We are on vacation!” For a total of 25 minutes we sat at our table and were not acknowledged. Completely ignored. No response from the staff. So we left.

Try and sit in a restaurant for that long feeling as if you do not exist. This is much harder than it sounds. Imagine if this was during your busy week. A lunch meeting. A tightly scheduled day. We would not sit for two minutes without some acknowledgement!

Being responsive is a conscious decision. We need to customize it. We all need to ask questions and engage. Some tasks can wait. Some cannot. But we first need to recognize the opportunity to serve. This sounds so simple. But, we get busy. We know what we need or want to get done. We rationalize. We say, “If I just focus I will be able to get to it.” But we don’t! We are mostly well-intended.

We “think” we are responsive. Yet, there are opportunities for improvement all around us. Try for a few weeks to stop and be fully aware when someone asks something of you. Did you stop and engage? Did you let your customer (internal or external) know you heard them? Did you establish a mutual understanding of expectations? When is it due? On a broader scale what is your personal service level? How quickly will you get back to someone by email? By voice mail? When someone asks you for feedback?

Being Responsive is about working with others. It’s about being a great teammate. It’s is about serving your customer and customizing your responsiveness. No two situations are alike.

The next time you work with a teammate, ask yourself: Is this a business lunch or a vacation meal? Is this two minutes or ten? It is up to each of us to figure out the difference.

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