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The Right Response is Not Always Instant

| July 19, 2011

by Jim Bruce

Today’s Reading, “The Right Response is Not Always Instant” , is from the pen of Ron Ashkenas, managing partner of Schaffer Consulting and a co-author of “The GE Work-Out.”  His latest book is “Simply Effective.”

Too many of the flood of messages we receive each day have an implied, or sometime stated, urgency that suggests, requires, or even demands that we drop everything and address the request.  You have to wonder, with seemingly everything “labeled” urgent whether anything really is.

Ashkenas suggests that while there are no easy answers, there are approaches that can help.  Here are three:

1.  Dont assume that “urgent” really means urgent.  Explore what is required, what the requestor is really trying to accomplish.  Sometimes the sense of urgency is just a way of conveying the person’s importance or power, or even a reflexion of personal anxiety.

2.  Try to distinguish between an urgent crisis and an urgent request.  Sometimes there is a crisis and the right response is to address it now.  Probe for what is really required.  Perhaps, a commitment to resolve the issue by a date certain will be sufficient.

3.  Be prepared to say NO.  Good service doesn’t necessarily mean doing everything that is wanted.  It does mean what is doing the best of everyone — the customer, your staff, and both of your organizations.  So, talk through the implications and the outcomes and do what is right.

So, carefully stop and evaluate those “urgent” requests and only then act.


Have a wonderful week.  .  .  .     jim