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January 9, 2017 The Rainmaker

Don't leave them wondering

Ken Cook

It’s the third time they’ve called this week. I’m just too busy to deal with it. Hopefully they’ll eventually give up.

Sound familiar?

Too frequently we’re in a business situation where one party is waiting on the other party to do something, decide something or take some action.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve wondered what’s going on merely because I’ve heard nothing.

And, I’ve usually imagined the worst-case scenarios: They definitely are not going to do business with me. This sale is lost, and I needed it to make my numbers this month. Why won’t he return my call?

It’s like waking up at 3:30 a.m. and not being able to get back to sleep.

All of the really bad stuff pops into your head.

If you are the one responsible for the next step, don’t leave them wondering.

And don’t let indecision or no decision add to your stress.

If you are responsible for the next step, take action.

You can do one of three things. Say yes and move the project forward; say no and end the project; or say maybe or not now, and put the project on hold.

Making a decision is respectful of the relationship.

It recognizes the time and investment each person has put into a situation.

The decision, even if it is an “on hold decision at this time” facilitates the connection and trust you have built into the relationship.

A decision is also liberating, both for you and for the other person.

You know where that project now stands.

No longer is it on your to-do list; it is now on the done list, or – at worst – the pending list.

The other party is not left wondering.

Instead of imagining all of the worst scenarios, they now know the disposition of the situation.

They know if the project is moving forward, not moving forward or put on hold.

Also (and I can’t emphasize this enough) making a decision, even an on-hold decision, is just plain polite.

The basics are simple. Be honest in your response. You have either made a decision and you present that. Or, you have not made a decision and you state that. You say you want more time, more information, more help with the situation, whatever is needed.

The exception to all of this is the cold caller. A cold call is just an interruption. It is someone who has no relationship with you, inserting themselves into your daily routine without invitation. A cold caller does not require a return call or response. They’ve done nothing to deserve the moments of your time required to respond.

In today’s world of connectivity and information, there is no reason to make a cold call. Rather, research the person with whom you want to connect. Find a way to get a warm introduction. Then, be patient. The warm introduction process has to go through the same level of decision making described earlier.

The Bottom Line: Everyone appreciates how busy everyone else is, because they are busy themselves. In the midst of this hectic environment, ease the burdens and respect the relationships. Make decisions. Don’t leave someone wondering.

Ken Cook is the co-founder of How to Who, an organization focused on helping people effectively build relationships and building business through those relationships. Learn more at

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