Efficiency is something many professionals aspire to. But what does it mean to be efficient? It's not just about completing tasks as quickly as possible. When other people are involved, it's also about communicating effectively, and technology may be setting us back in this. Take the online calendars such as Calendly or Acuity, for example.
The calendar may save time and reduce the frustration of going back and forth, but when people send a link with only a message of "Here's a link," that, alone, is not efficient. If you do that, you miss an opportunity to connect. And that may actually set you back in the long run because you fail to connect well and consistently. If you've ever been annoyed by an automated receptionist, you know what I'm talking about. The automated receptionists make us feel like a number, like the company's time and efficiency is more important than ours, right?
The online schedulers seem to be used most when first meeting a person because people schedule the next meeting during that first conversation. So, that interaction is part of the first impression people have, and you don't want it to be that your efficiency is more important than they are. So what can you do?
Invite, don't direct. Share a moment of enthusiasm and warmth. Be personable! The person you're sending this to can open doors for you that you can't imagine. Most people will want to know you first, though, and there is more to you than efficiency. So, take a few moments to connect now and open doors for a lifetime.
It may be as simple as this: "I'd love to chat with you about ___. You and I are both busy, so to make it easier and save us both some time, I am including a link to my calendar. Would you please choose the time that works best for you?" When you see that someone follows through, you can even send another message that says, "Hi! I saw you set up a time and just wanted to let you know I'm really looking forward to it." As simple as it seems, it also builds rapport.
Think of rapport as that "Good Will" line item that contributes to a higher value for your company. That's an asset now as well as at point of sale because it makes things easier and can also help you accomplish things better and faster. It's particularly important for customer satisfaction and loyalty as well as resolving and preventing conflict. So, it's critical for efficiency when people are involved.
And beyond rapport, from a logical perspective, what if you schedule 30 minutes and the conversation requires 45? What if you need to have another conversation first? What if it or the conversation before it leaves you wanting some time to debrief, take action, ponder, or recover? If you're schedule doesn't allow breaks, how are you going to shift so you're next caller is top of mind? If you're going to use an online calendar, make sure you run it, not the other way around.
A conversation that is worth having requires some time beforehand and after, so to be most effective and efficient, make sure you schedule the time needed for the conversation, including the time to prepare and debrief.
Efficiency is not the be all end all in your work. But to the extent it is important, building rapport is a strategy that will improve efficiency over time and it'll also increase satisfaction and effectiveness. With that in mind, scheduling isn't just a task, it's an opportunity to connect and use your time efficiently and effectively.
Photo by Eric Rothermel on Unsplash
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