Friday, April 11, 2008

Follow-up gets results

If you follow this space, you know I talk about books occasionally. Some PR folks have noticed, and now they send me books from time to time which they would like me to talk about. This has led to the happy/sad situation that I have more books in my pile than I can possibly read.

On a couple of occasions, an action has caused me to pull a book from the middle of the pile and read it next. That action was a simple follow-up. "Did you get the book we sent? Will you get a chance to read it soon?"

At that point I felt a little obligation to get to the book quickly. I didn't rearrange my schedule or drop other important things to do it. I just made a note to get to this one as soon as I had a chance. As Bazerman and Malhotra wrote in Negotiation Genius, "Humans tend to reciprocate behavior."

Frequently, I'm asking people to do things on my behalf. I need to remember that respectful follow-up is not hassling people, and it won't make people do things they don't want to do. It does, however, raise your request, even for a moment, to the top of the pile.

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