This is a simple tip with outsized impact.
How many people have not returned a call (or email) you placed to them 3 days ago? 4 days ago? 5 days ago?
Think about what those non-actions cost you. They create a low-grade, chronic, sub-conscious tension, a sense of annoyance and resentment that you can’t do anything about. And the longer it gets, the more annoying it is.
Why haven’t they called back? I know they’re in town. Don’t they realize this is sort of important? Don’t they realize I need to schedule things based on their response? Are they avoiding me? Was it something I said? What are they afraid of telling me? Why are they avoiding me? How did things get this bad? And so on.
There’s not much you can do to get people to return calls. But you have all the power in the world to return calls yourself.
How to Return Calls Fast
Don’t confuse returning calls with having answers. This is not about dropping everything, not about response time..
The intent of it sounds like this:
Joe, I just got your call. I may not get to it until Thursday, but I want you to know I got it. I’m on the case. It’s on my to-do list, it’s on my mind. I’m thinking about it in the shower in the morning, on the way home in the evening, and in between. Just wanted to let you know. You can take it off your worry list, it’s on mine.
There are add-on benefits. For one, this helps you manage your schedule.
But the biggest benefit is forcing you to confront. Sometimes people don’t return phone calls just because they’re busy, and/or not thoughtful. But frequently it’s because they don’t know what to say—or they do know what to say, and don’t want to say it.
Most of us are terrible at constructive confrontation.
But confrontation is not the enemy—disengagement is. If you commit to developing the habit of returning calls unbelievably fast, you will also be committing to facing tough issues head on, instead of dodging and avoiding them.
And that creates trust.