Thank you. Thank YOU – the person who takes the time to engage with others in a sincere and thoughtful manner. It’s so old-school of you and it’s most appreciated.
Thank you for:
* sending an E-mail. You don’t always have a reason for sending some of the E-mails and messages that you send. Sometimes you simply want to say “hello, how are you?”.
* replying to an E-mail. You reply immediately and use a salutation. You start your E-mails with “Hi or Dear” and sign your name at the end with a closing sentiment. Perhaps it takes a few days to construct a reply; however, you do reply and you reply with sincerity. You understand that reading an E-mail, without replying, leaves the other person in an uncomfortable position. He or she does not know if you read the document or what your thoughts are about what was written.
* reading an E-mail, letter or contribution on social media. When an employee working for a federal Member of the Canadian Parliament automatically deleted an incoming E-mail from a constituent, the latter was justifiably miffed and made his sentiments known. This type of behaviour goes against the spirit of good quality communication.
* your phone call. You call to touch base and catch up. Speaking on the phone allows for the free-flow communication of ideas and exchange of news.
* arranging a Skype session or connecting when a contact was online. Seeing another person while talking is the next best thing to meeting face-to-face.
* making plans to meet up while you were traveling. You came through town and you were fairly rushed. Or you had a few days to visit. Either way, you made an effort to meet with old friends, professional contacts and relatives. If you couldn’t meet up in person, you made a phone call to say “hi”. When you didn’t have the time to meet individually with others, you arranged a group social function. Many people don’t have the opportunity or resources to travel often. The care you took to ensure that some kind of connection happened when you were in town mattered.
* returning a message. You return a missed call the same day or perhaps within three days. It could be a personal call. Or maybe a professional call. The care you take to return the phone call shows consideration for the person who called. If you can’t attend to the call, in a professional context for example, you implement a system to have others help you respond. You also determine when your personal involvement would be more appropriate.
* leaving a message. You wait for the voice mail to click in and leave a message along with clear contact information. It’s not always easy to catch someone at home or in the office but you make it known that you want to chat.
* understanding that some people are communication challenged. This can be the case, for example, with parents of young children. You follow-up because you understand that a non-response doesn’t indicate a lack of interest to connect.
* extending an invitation to get together for a coffee, meet-up, event, dinner or professional activity. You make the arrangements by phone, in person, E-mail, E-vite or social media. You add a personal touch. You make it clear that the presence of the invitees matters.
* engaging with others on Twitter. You retweet content, respond to curated information or questions and promote Twitter accounts to others. You respect the difference in opinion that can exist around a topic and don’t “flame” complete strangers when you disagree with their perspective. You don’t assume that you know a person based on their 140 character tweet.
* accepting an invite to get together. You don’t waffle. You don’t vacillate. You don’t give a slippery response, waiting to see if another, more profitable opportunity was presented. You don’t cancel for insignificant reasons. You don’t repeatedly cancel. If you do have to cancel you assume the responsibility to restart efforts to get together. You don’t add inflexible terms to the process of getting together.
* sending a postcard while you were traveling. The postcards and stamps you send are attractive and the messages are appreciated. Thank you for keeping contact information with you while you travel and for taking the time to send a colourful message.
* sending a letter. You type your letters or perhaps you hand write them. Your effort to write letters and mail them is appreciated.
* sending or give a gift. It was very thoughtful of you to think about giving a gift. Thank you.
* sending a form letter. You send them by regular post or via E-mail, along with a colourful card or additional hand written message or attached photographs. It is interesting to read your latest news and see some recent photographs of you and your loved ones.
* making conversation in public. You make conversation with others while you are in the grocery line or waiting for a coffee or bus. It is pleasant, light conversation and brightens other people’s days.
* responding to a request for help. They usually aren’t large requests but the fact that you share information, look up the name of a mutual contact with another person, make a professional connection with a fellow colleague or make an effort to help in some way is most appreciated. If your initial thought is that you can’t help, you take time to make sure that you really can’t help in some small way, at least. You understand that there is an important reason for the request and that your help is critical and makes a significant difference. You don’t complain that you receive many requests for help because you know that this is not true for most people.
* committing yourself to the conversation. During a professional or social event your mind doesn’t wander. You aren’t scoping the room to see who you’d like to meet. You aren’t mentally willing yourself elsewhere. You might not have had a lot in common with your conversation partner but you make sincere contributions and care to hear what the other person was saying.
* wanting to be seated with anyone at a professional or personal event. You don’t take on a petulant attitude when you are not seated close to a guest of honour or the friend or relative who is visiting from London. You know that you can catch up with that person later and you are just as happy to speak with someone who lives in the same city and sees you on a regular basis.
* understanding how to use social media. You set up an account and took the time to understand the human dynamic behind how social media is used. You’ve got a plan about how you will use your account. You’ve set up lists to share information with targeted groups of friends. You make the possibility of engagement possible. You haven’t removed comments or the wall post function from your profile page. Your contacts don’t only see an about/info page. You have priorities for how you will accept link requests so that your account won’t spiral out of control, requiring you to take drastic action. You don’t need to “unfriend” contacts because you give careful thought to who is on your contact list and how you exchange information. You don’t minimize other people’s content. You know that if you aren’t interested in the content that they share, you can quickly scroll past it. You understand that if you read content on social media but never engage with others, you are using the website like a voyeur. This makes other people feel uncomfortable.
* for “liking” other people’s content on social media and leaving comments. You “liked” it because you liked it. You also let the person who shared the information know that you appreciated their efforts to share content and you shared your appreciation with others.
* for “liking” and supporting the pages of friends and contacts. You showed that you are interested in their efforts online and the information that they are curating and sharing. Indirectly you shared information about the existence of these pages (and the related websites) with your contacts.
* for engaging with others on people’s personal and professional social media pages and websites. Some are web journals and some operate more like websites. You understand the difference and interact appropriately. You might visit these pages regularly or infrequently; however, when you do you take note of the efforts of others and show interest.
* for contributing content to the social media sites that you use. You might not be a prolific contributor, but you’ve added some kind of profile image and you add content from time to time. You understand that the purpose of adding content to social media sites, such as Facebook, is to share. You don’t make your contacts feel that they are “stalking” you because they “like” or comment on the photos that you share. You recognize that most people don’t pop into their contacts’ profile pages. They scan their homepage and your content appears there. You know that you can customize how you share information or photos if you don’t want some of your contacts to engage with you about this content.
* for allowing people to have differing opinions. You don’t leave aggressive comments and you do share your different opinions in a respectful way. You have friends who share content online that does not mesh well with your political, spiritual, intellectual, professional and personal beliefs. You respect the fact that the world is made up of all types of people and even follow their ideas to try and understand different world views.
* understanding how to use social media designed for networking purposes. Networking isn’t a dirty word to you. You understand that human connections and engagement drive most people’s careers and professional efforts. You understand that some networks are designed to promote engagement and connections – such as LinkedIn. You play your part to facilitate engagement with others and know that you might make similar requests of others. You pay it forward and since you connect with people you respect, you don’t mind taking part in this process.
* for not using your smart phone in the presence of others. You aren’t sending text messages to people near (next to you!) or far. You aren’t checking E-mail/social media/the Internet/facts online/apps while in a social engagement or meeting. You don’t place your phone on the table, like a gun at the ready, while eating with others. You are fully present and you aren’t distracted.
* for using your phone appropriately. You don’t check for messages when you could wait until later. You don’t excuse yourself from a conversation or meeting to take a call when you could attend to that call later.
* wanting to stay connected. Your interest in others extends beyond the personal and professional connections you maintain on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. You are interested to hear from, connect and meet up with colleagues and friends you haven’t seen for months, years or even decades. You might not have as close of a relationship as you used to have but your respect for these people remains as strong as it did when you used to see each other on a regular basis.
* reading this far. If you weren’t interested in modern methods of communication and rules of engagement, you probably wouldn’t have clicked on this link in the first place.
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