I took on my own stretch assignment at work, offering to lead two Working Out Loud Circles. In these circles, the participants are learning about making contributions.
In my own words, contributions, in this context, are things you can do that just plain make you a better person to work with, and be around. I found it extremely helpful to see ten contributions summarized in Week 8 of the program.
As I thought about my own practice of the ten contributions, there was one that was similar called “offer attention” but I coach others more overtly to contribute in a way just as important as the others—Acknowledgement.
So what do I mean?
How many times have you called someone, or sent an email, or a text message—or all 3—and never heard anything in return? The kids call this getting ghosted when a friend does it to you.
Casper. At work. Who would’ve known?
How many times have you contemplated, seemingly for hours, about how to send the right message, with the right words, to someone else, like a boss? Then, when you finally muster the courage to hit the “send” button, you wait with nervousness, wondering what he/she will think, or say, in return.
And you wait. And wait. And wait.
And then the doubts start to enter your mind. Did I piss him/her off? Did I over extend my boundaries? Did I make a fool out of myself?
You check your email box, hitting “send/receive all messages”. It’s like you’re now borderline crazy.
And still nothing.
If you’ve been there, you’re not alone. But the remedy is very easy. It’s called acknowledgement.
Just acknowledge that you got the message. You don’t even have to craft a lengthy response. How about this:
“Thanks for the note, I’ll take a look.”
“I appreciate that you reached out. I can’t commit to anything at this time, but will consider your ideas.”
From my experience, people that practice this simple contribution are more engaged, more inspiring, and establish authentic connections more often than people that just ignore the message. Do you want people to play the sound of crickets to their friends after sending you a message as a mockery to your impending blow off, or do you want to practice making a small contribution to another person just by telling them you acknowledge that they reached out to you?
Take 60 seconds and acknowledge the other person—you’ll never regret it.
I completely agree with you on this and that it should be a two way street both up and down.
Another trick I use is the military acronym BLUF or bottom line up front. Put what you are looking to get from your message at the top and then put the supporting documentation below. For a busy leader it gives them an opportunity quickly decide where in their priorities they should place the email and should allow them to acknowledge easier.
Nothing is worse than getting a one or more page long email and you don’t know what the person wants until the end.
Awesome! So fundamental but so lacking in our world.