December 7, 2017

Call With No News (It’s an Easy Way to Build Trust)

This past June I was contracted for—and completed– a speaking engagement for which I have not yet been paid.

Because I hold relentlessness as a virtue (despite the low-grade contempt inherent in this dictionary definition….a blog post for another time) I followed up on my invoice myself for 5 months, then turned the situation over to my attorney.

They wrote him today to say they had wired a portion of the money into my account (mysterious since they don’t have my banking information) and would be sending along the rest when their company had sorted out its financial situation.

Hhhmmmm….

Leaving aside their claim that the money is on its way—which opens up a whole other can of worms– I’m writing to say this situation could have been avoided had they picked up the phone at any time in the last six months and said, “We don’t have news on when we can pay you— but we want you to know we are committed to paying you when we can.”

Unfortunately I’ve discovered, as I’m sure you have, too, that people will say, “Oh, I’ll call and let you know about thus and such” and then….silence.

When you finally do hear from them, either because you could no longer stand the silence and called them, or because you find yourselves standing behind them in the ‘10 Items Or Less’ line, is that they didn’t call because they never did get the answer to your question and/or they thought you wouldn’t like the news they were calling to give you.

Argh: both situations suck—why compound them by not making the call?

In the case of missing information it’s important to call because getting a status report of this kind allows us either to move forward and attempt to gather the information elsewhere, or choose to remain in a holding pattern with this person: we are left feeling like we have a choice, which makes us like you better.

In the case of not calling because you think we won’t like what you have to say… well, why compound that lousy situation? 

Frankly, if you become known as someone who takes the time to pick up the phone and follow through—regardless of the status of the news you are calling with—you are far more likely to be able to persuade people to give you time when you need it, a referral when you ask for it, and the deal because you deserve it.

** If you liked this post you might also like “Ghosting: It’s Not Just for Breakups Anymore” 

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