One of the biggest challenges most professionals face today is effective communication. As a salesperson, attorney, banker, owner or investor, communication is your lifeline. We can easily reach out to anyone, anytime, anywhere. But how many calls or emails should it take to get a response? And at what point do you spiral out of control when you don’t get a call back?
I was on the subway at rush hour this morning and a baby was crying. The baby’s dad was frantically trying to console the rambunctious terror tot with candy, toys and a million verbal bribes, while gadget-holding commuters angrily looked up, annoyed to be distracted out of their zombie-like techno trances. The flailing dad was breaking a sweat, which had no effect on baby monster, who finally settled down on his own to a well-deserved break after giving an enlightening performance.
Getting a call returned promptly is sometimes like quieting a colicky baby.
It goes without saying that the technology is more than readily available, and everyone, including those colicky babies, has the equipment and air waves available to get and send messages. But how do you communicate effectively and get the response you need when you need it? Less is more, or not, so it seems today. More is never enough for our insatiable clients and co-workers. We are in an era that demands instant gratification.
Although the zombie commuters went back to their texting addictions and there was peace in the kingdom, the airwaves were as chaotic as the screaming tot’s sweating dad. In our desperate need for attention, we are like screaming babies when we can’t reach that owner or buyer for the offer that we need to close the deal, NOW. So we place the call to her office. It goes right to voice mail, then before we hang up, our ambidextrous left hand is dialing her cell. We leave a voice mail while texting an urgent SOS. Thirty seconds go by and still no response, so we send an old-fashioned email.
Then, as a last resort we send a fax, secretly promising ourselves to never tell anyone we stooped to such an archaic level. We call all the phone numbers one more time, expecting that she understands that all her missed calls should serve as reminders of our voice-mail messages.
Meanwhile, Ms. Seller is on the other side of techno-land desperately retrieving the redundancy of messages, breaking a sweat an hour later and spent from the whirlwind flurry of having gotten nowhere. Like the crying baby who finally figured out how to settle down, a well-placed call, text, email—and even fax with the right placement of exclamation marks, highlighted in florescent chartreuse—will go much further than 20 calls.
Try something new if you want to get someone’s attention and maybe even earn a tiny bit of respect. Send one message and let it land. The busy owner on the other side of your reach will at some point appreciate your consideration of her time while the impatient agent who left 20 forms of communication will eventually serve to annoy her to the point of being cast in the pile of insignificant crying babies.
We have become our own worst enemies in relying on technology to do what may need to be done in person. A voice and a face go even further than today’s technology. Be different. Meet your clients. A 30-minute meeting will save everyone a ton of time spent chasing tails. Look at it as an investment in your business.
A crying baby if left to find his own consolation will eventually get there and smile peacefully and satisfied with his major accomplishment.
Adelaide Polsinelli is a veteran real estate professional with more than 25 years of real estate brokerage experience and more than 900 transactions under her belt. She is a senior director at Eastern Consolidated.