“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.”  Rollo May

You sent your message to the marketing department and had hoped to get a response back within a day or two, but it’s been four days and you haven’t heard a word. Did they even get the message? Did you send it correctly? Should you hound them about it? It’s frustrating isn’t it? If your culture tolerates this type of communication style you’ll pay a price with every message. There’s an easy fix.

Build these 4 steps into the protocol for all your messaging and your frustrations with uncertain outcomes will be far fewer. Whether you’re a small shop or a corporate giant, sell this messaging protocol to your team and everyone will become more efficient, understanding and effective. Not to mention, that the protocol will enhance their sense of teamwork, but to be truly effective the change must be systemic not individualistic- change the culture from the top down.

Here’s how it works. For starters, each person on your leadership team agrees that as soon as they read a message they will…

1.  …acknowledge receipt.-  “Got it.” This may be all that’s needed for some message responses. Customer service superstars at USAA Claims, auto-reply 24/7 with – “Your message has been received.” In addition, if a specific request is made of you, then also…

2.  …confirm understanding. – “Got it and I’ll deliver you a copy of the April cash summary.” Even if a deadline isn’t provided to you, moving to step 3 will assure that the message sender knows your schedule. So you…

3. …provide a timetable. – “Got it and I’ll deliver you a copy of the April cash summary by 5pm tomorrow.”

4. …“Reply all”. “Reply all” responses keep everyone in the loop, enhance transparency and promote a team spirit. Unless there’s a compelling reason not to, always “Reply all”. For introverts, who can be perceived as secretive or aloof, the “Reply all.” response can be even more important.

To seal the transaction with excellence, you demonstrate the power of the best practices  standard of “Under promise and over deliver.” You promised a 5pm response, but At 10 am  tomorrow, you hand him the report you promised by 5pm.  Your  response has  enhanced your trustworthiness.

Ideally this style of messaging is corporate and cultural, but even if everyone else isn’t on board with this protocol, do it yourself and be seen as a clear communicator, effective producer and a team player. If you’re the message initiator, ask for confirmation, understanding and a timetable.

Now, that’s great messaging!

“Communication works for those who work at it.”  John Powell