Whether we are natural list makers or not, the length of our to-dos requires some type of tracking or we are lost. The have-tos are simply relentless. But let’s flip the coin to the other side – when we need something from others or want others to do something in response to us. Do they clearly know it?
Some people are very good at getting others to do things and the rest of us muddle through it. Can you recall a time or two when you were pretty sure that someone was asking you for something but they were so vague you either had to ask or pretended that you didn’t catch their real meaning? They didn’t come right out with their call to action perhaps counting on our good graces to step in and offer.
When my kids were in their early teens they would say things like, I need this list of supplies for a project and I would take it from there and ask questions like when is it due, how many, what color and the like. When they got into their mid-teens I would respond with ‘that’s nice’ and wait. (Of course I explained the first time that I was turning more of the responsibility over to them to actually ask me to get the stuff.) There were a couple of times when they didn’t get what they needed, but they figured out that they had to turn the statement into a question and be the responsible party to get the action completed.
We think that adults don’t need that same process explanation, but sometimes they do. Send me an email and tell me a nice story, thanks. Oh, you wanted me to do something, I didn’t see that spelled out. There wasn’t a call to action on my part. You were passing on the thing, but I read that you were telling me about it. Because you didn’t say, ‘I would like for you to do xyz, please’.
Sometimes I truly didn’t catch the intent, and sometimes I used the vagueness to avoid stepping in.
Spend time on your hook – why should I help you, what’s in it for me – but don’t forget to set the hook before you end the contact, by spelling out your call to action.
© 2013 Practical Business | Reasonable Expectations