One of the saddest aspects of my search for a full time leadership position is the utterly amazing amount of rudeness I encounter on a regular basis from ‘professionals’. I know everyone is too busy, stressed and trying to get to it all. The constant buzz of incoming calls texts, emails, the red light in the car: it can seem endless and relentless. No matter on what side of the desk or computer you sit, sending or receiving, the sheer volume of information to have to deal with is daunting.
The fiction of multi-tasking is a further burden, with the expectation that we can keep several things going and do them all well, and more than ‘good enough’. After the inevitable 10- car pileup occurs on the desk, many realize that multi-tasking not only doesn’t serve us, but can get in the way of excellent performance. As with texting, multi-tasking eliminates nuance, detail and close consideration. This approach might be OK for an outdoor garage sale, but when it comes to good planning, good hiring, and excellent execution, focus and attention to detail are crucial.
Excuse Me, Thank You, Got it & Will Get back to You
Another victim of rush, urgency and output is courtesy. Emails become standardized and canned texts; responses are selected from a menu rather than directed at the question. Simple questions and acknowledgments are luxuries this pressure simply can’t afford to include. Issues are quantified, and if less than $50, ignored totally. Even the practiced and scripted patience of call centers and customer service agents is clearly insincere and designed to get you off the phone quickly.
Heaven forefend if you want something more, or require more than cursory attention. As I seek the best full time position, this unpleasantness seems more the norm than the exception. Emails are not acknowledged, or if so, it is an automated message indicating nothing whatsoever other than the receipt of digits. The applicant is expected to be unfailingly polite, patient, forthcoming, eager, sincere and available; and expected to understand that there is no anticipation of reciprocal behavior. If you don’t make the cut, you will know by not knowing.
The really sad part of this is that thoughts of those firms, those people and those activities who respond abruptly, cursorily or not at all, will always be remembered for that poor treatment; that is something intensely human in nature.
Time After Time
Viral videos show this constantly: amongst all the hurly burly, someone stops and takes a moment for someone else and miracles happen. A child hears for the first time, a smile breaks through the sadness, a skill is revealed, wonders occur. The smallest kindnesses often result in the largest impacts. Yeah, I know you are busy and have 500 emails and a stack on your desk.
Remember your humanity, be in touch with your own feelings, and take that extra second to be a bit kinder, slower and courteous. Let someone in front of you, extend your hand, your ear and your compassion. Pay attention, listen a bit more, read between the lines.
It costs nothing to be sincere, and offer thoughtfulness. Make your standard be the one of the extra moment and thought. If it doesn’t work, at least you were the good guy.
If you’d like to experience some courtesy, get in touch here or call me on 310 828 6979.
Cindy Lauren is the Principal of Lauren Associates – non profit consulting
As well as advising Executives and Boards on all aspects of nonprofit management, the firm specializes in developing fundraising solutions for all sizes of organizations.