One of my greatest joys is helping authors publish their books, and my mission is to make publishing a great experience. In the course of my work week, I receive hundreds of emails, dozens of phone calls and attend several meetings. Time is my most precious resource.
Every week I am contacted by people who want my time. Many need assistance with something that is important to them. Some communicate in a way that is professional and efficient, making it easy for me to help them. Others seem to quickly assume that I have nothing else to do but to listen to their story, help them think through it and coach them along the way until their situation has been clarified and resolved in the way that best meets their needs. Some even become belligerent if I am not available to pick up the phone whenever they call or if I can’t give them what they want. It is much more difficult to help these people.
I have identified six steps to ensure I am communicating efficiently:
- I determine what I really need. Yes, it would be nice if the person or company I am contacting would give me everything I want, but they rarely are in a position to do so. So what can I realistically expect?
- I figure out who is in the best position to meet that need. Interestingly, it is not the president of the company, rather it is the person directly responsible for meeting that need. I have found that starting too high in the company does not put me with the person that is in a position to help me.
- I discover the best way to communicate with that person. Some people and companies prefer email, while others make it clear that they want you to call them. If they make it easy to find their phone number but difficult to find an email address, they are letting me know they prefer a phone call. Even though I find email to be more efficient, I need to be flexible and set aside my preference to make it easier for them to help me.
- I consider the situation from their perspective and determine how they can benefit in the situation. Many times the biggest benefit I can provide is simply offering an issue they can resolve quickly and easily so they can be productive. We all need to perform well at work so helping somebody be more productive is appreciated.
- I get to the point. I provide just enough of the story so the person can understand the situation and then I ask for what I want. For example, if I bought shoes but they were defective, I simply say, “The shoes are defective and I want a refund within two business days.” They don’t need to hear about how my morning run was spoiled by the shoes. I have found that communicating clearly and efficiently will get faster results.
- I document what I have done and schedule a time to follow up. If I leave a voice mail for somebody I also send a quick email summarizing what I’ve said so there is a formal record of the communication. I create a reminder based on when I said I would like things to be resolved so I can follow up if necessary.
I have also found that these steps help me communicate better as a writer. Identifying how I want the reader to benefit from what I am writing and getting to the point quickly helps keep me focused on writing in a way that people will read.
How could applying these steps help you in your journey as an author?