The Customer Experience Podcast
The Customer Experience Podcast

Episode · 7 months ago

205. Methods to Manage the Inbox Madness w/ Melissa Gratias


There are 300 unopened emails in your inbox as of this morning and mentally, you’re starting to shut down.  

Sound familiar?  

The psychology behind the overwhelm of email overload focuses on productivity as a skill, not a personality trait. Today’s guest boils things down to this: unopened emails are unmade decisions.  

The solution is easier than it may seem and based entirely on how you work and thrive.  

Hear our conversation with Melissa Gratias, Owner and Principal of Progress Not Perfection:

  • How to prioritize progress above perfection
  • How to discern the difference between effective and efficient
  • Why your inbox is a train station platform
  • What tricks can help you achieve a sustainably organized workday 
  • Which underlying problems keep people from achieving success  

More information about Melissa Gratias and today’s topics:

Subscribe, listen, and rate/review the Customer Experience Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, or Google Podcasts, and find more episodes on our blog.

The single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Learn how sales, marketing and customer success experts create internal alignment, achieved desired outcomes and exceed customer expectations in a personal and human way. This is the customer experience podcast. Here's your host, Ethan Butte. Productivity is a skill set, not a personality trait. Today you'll get insights into becoming more productive by controlling your time, tasks and technology, and yes, that does include email. will be talking about email. Our guest is a psychologist and a productivity expert, a speaker, author and coach. She's featured in the award winning bombomb documentary dear first name, a business case against digital pollution. Dr Melissa, Gracious, welcome to the customer experience podcast. Oh so happy to be here even thank you. This is great. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it. I Love Your specialty. There's obviously a need for it, so I'd love to probably work our way into like perhaps your own story on when you realize that there was a big enough need for this in general that you could just pursue it full on. But before we get there. Let's start with customer experience directly. When I say that, what does it mean to you a customer experience? For me it's more about the feelings at to that are the result of the interaction with the brand or the company, which, you know, you can argue causality there, but there are lots of things we can do when we're in front of customers and that to achieve the same result. But we really want them to leave their interactions with us feeling seen, feeling validated and and ready to buy. Yeah, it is so interesting. Any thoughts or recommendations? I mean, you obviously have multiple degrees in psychology. Any thoughts on what we can be doing again, maybe perhaps past the obvious kind of mechanical things, basic things we can do to improve that emotional resonance that people are left with? Perhaps? I mean obviously I'm thinking in kind of human to human interactions. Any any easier obvious go to say're like, we're a couple basic ways to make people feel seat or hurt or appreciated. I will go back to how restaurants are working nowadays. Okay, to answer your question, think about pulling. You go in, you start and you get to customize everything you order, you get exactly what you want. Then the pokebole places you go in, you can request seven pieces of salmon if you want seven pieces of Salmon. It's all about seeing the person as an individual. Psychology, since you brought it up, is the study of individual differences. Is meaning one size fits one. When we are interacting with with a potential customer, we need to be looking for cues to that person's individuality, not necessarily running the same, same old, same old script, we've said a thousand times before, but asking probing meaningful questions to find out who's this in this person, this individual is on the phone with you, are on this zoom with you, and then tailoring our approach, having the flexibility, having the skills to go with that flow and to make the person feel seen and heard as an individual, because that's what I think a lot of us want. Yeah, I think every human wants that. I love it. That's really, really well done and what I was visualizing in my head is the efficiency of an assembly line. We're just cranking customers through the lunch line just to keep it at the restaurant, versus the effectiveness of, you know, creating some opportunities for people to either raise their voice. Now I'm also bridging outside of that example, to like you know, we have a lot of customer data and I don't think a lot of company it very often feels like they're not using it. It's like I just answered this question like to form feels ago, or I just told this to the last person I was on the phone. Work kind so frust drippy. Yes, yeah, and now tell us a little bit about what you're doing as a coach and the variety of the of work that you're doing. And I want to I want to just mention, I absolutely love the name of your LLC that you do this work under, which is progress, not perfection. So give us a sense of the types of people that you're serving, what you're doing with them in particular, like what problems you're addressing. And then, if you remember, because I'll remind you if you don't just in case, actually about the name to progress not perfection, or even start there. I mean that might frame the whole thing well, you know, let's do that. I think it's a good suggestion.

My clients are not low achieving individuals. Okay, they are, one hundred percent of them are high achievers who have most likely worked themselves into a state of overwhelm or they are succeeding by throwing more and more effort and hours and blood, sweat and tears, whatever you want to say, at their career, their job, their tasks. They they're muscling their way through their work days, and all of this is in the with the goal of achieving something outstanding. And the and the people that with whom I work are often perfectionists, which some folks might not think. That that that I'm not brought into fix dead wood. I'm not brought into fix people who really should be managed out of an organization. I work with people who likely have more potential, if not in their work, then have more potential to have a wife and they want more balance. They want to a client on working with right nowedge shes salesperson. She says I couldn meet it's what she told me. I can meet quota working half a day for the you know, for the first, you know, twenty days of the month and with the other half I want to be able to do this, that this thing that she has that she wants to do. That's our goal. That's what we're going to I'm going to help her do is structure her hours and her time so that she can get things done in her goal way and her way that she would like to see it done. So my clients come to me who are very successful and they say, well, you know, I can't just reply to an email. I have to think about it, I have to mull it over for a few days. I you know that just a quick reply is not that. I just I just can't do that. And I talk about we've got to make progress, we got to focus on progress, because if all we do is focus on perfection, then we will fail to start, we will fail to finish and it first of all, it's not cheapable anyway. We all know that cognitively, but it's just not so my clients come to me wanted to work more effectively efficient way. They come to me feeling over worked and overwhelmed and I transform them into people who feel three words focused, balanced and successful. So good, I love those through words focused, balanced and successful. I was going to ask as a follow up, you know, how do we get here? Is it a lack of focus? Is it a lack of discipline? Is it a were overambitious for the situation in front of us, or is the organization or the circumstance asking for more than any human could give or achieve rather in the given period of time? Like, what are some of the problems underlying this? I mean you've already mentioned that these are already successful people and they're just looking to achieve success in a way that feels more sustainable, probably from an energy and attention in a whole life, whole person perspective. But like, how do what are some of the underlying problems, the underlying problems that cause people to be unproductive? If there's a saying and a song, the road to heck is paid with, paved with good intentions and and I believe that people are well intentioned, they want to be effective, but they make bad judgment calls on what there that their brain can do. That it basically comes down to this. The one of the biggest fallacies that I see in a new client coming in is that, whether you realize you're doing it or not, they come in with the beliefs that, oh, I can keep it all straighten my head, you know, I can prioritize, I can remember, you know, and then when you stop and say and ask a simple question, how are you currently managing your tasks? And they say, Oh, well, you know, I got my email and box and I've got some sticky notes and I've got these meeting notes and I have and my voicemail is full and and I just remember to do things. And like you got that. You just named five, at least five different ways of managing your tasks and you are a traffic cop at a fiveweight intersection and that's going to always be exhausting and you will forget things. So we run into these fallacies, like we think we're going to remember everything we need to do and when, in reality, we will prioritize. Our brain will prioritize whatever is in our face at the moment. It's the whole squeaky wheel phenomenon. So if you're looking at your email, you want to swear this is the most important thing I need to be doing right now, when in fact the real most important thing is sitting on your desk in front of you or sitting there open in Microsoft word, for...

...example. So we make those fallacies and and it's that misjudging our our abilities that causes people to fall into traps and not see the light of day and feel like they have no way out. So it's my approach with clients is to simplify, make it simple, keep saying, you know, one task list, one calendar, one that you know. Just keep it really, really simple so that you don't have so many decisions to make in your career and in with your tasks. Interesting I can absolutely see that this idea of like overestimating our ability to do something well as as a primary underlying factor, and you already addressed two of the key solutions that I was imagining. One is obviously stop making it traffic cop at a five way and make it traffic cop at a at a one way, at as an intersection out of worldway street. And then probably calendar time blocking. I know for me, I often underestimate the amount of time that a task is going to take. So, like I'm part way down the road to success for your Playan here that you're just, you know, obviously loosely and lightly sketching, but talk about that. I mean it does that fall into the same category and we maybe overestimate the amount we can get done? Let me let me first of all talk about time blocking. Okay, time blocking is something that I have clients use very judiciously. Everybody's like, Oh, I just need a block time, as if block putting the appointment on the calendar is magically like poof going to make it happen. Where's it's still requires human intervention. Now I recommend timelocking. I'll get I'll tell give it up. Very specific example and audit manager with whom I work several years ago he had to review hip team of eight auditors reporting to him and he had to review all of their audits before they were sent on to whatever the next step in the process. Lest he was dreadfully behind mind in his reviews and they were always coming in. It was a regular task he had to do. He didn't really enjoy it, but and so he procrastinated it. which what? So he was this neck and the hourglass that was holding the entire process back for him. We, I said, okay, when are you at your best for editing and reviewing things? What time of the day? So we picked ton of the day. All right, what day of the week? And then we so we picked two blocks of time that were set aside every week for audit review and that was it. Contrast that to an executive secretary with whom I worked several years ago. She attempted to block every fifteen minutes with a different task and different color coded. I mean it was like the Rainbow Calendar. And if she got one phone call, if she got one you know, can tuck to you for a second, got a minute, the whole chain of dominoes was was destroyed and she was spending more time dragging her time blocks two different parts of the day than she was actually doing things. So judicious use of time blocking is important. That's the first thing I wanted to address. The second thing is time estimation. Now, I wrote a blog post about this and it is my most popular post by far in terms of, you know, searches and and people reading it. And I offered several different front methods of estimating time for a task, and I will first of all expose myself as the total Scifi nerd that I am by giving my star Trek example, and I'm not talking about the fancy new star trek stuff. I am talking about Kirk and Mr Scott Star Trek. Okay, so Mr Scott was known as for those of us who are as Geeky is me, the miracle worker. Okay, the miracle worker and because he's got it, he got the work engines all fixed in amazing amounts of time. In one of the movies Kerk calls down to Scotty and says, Scotty, when you get the work drives moving again? He said well, Captain, and you know, an a normal circumstances it would take me two days, but because you know you asked me so nicely, I think I can get it done for you in two hours. And Kirk Goes Scotty, do you always multiply your estimates, you know, but by a factor of one hundred every time you give them to me. And he said, of course I do. How else would I be known as the Miracle Worker? So one mezod of estimating time is the Mr Scott method. Just multiple. Take what you think and multiply it by it. Let's just say two, okay, you know, just just plan for Murphy. There's other ways to estimate time, and I like for clients who are really wanted to get a hold of how long it takes them to do things, they can use what a called the pomodoo method, and...

...that is where you work in twenty five minute blocks using a timer. I mean you do not watch the clock. You said a timer for twenty five minutes. You work. Take a five minute right, work for twenty five and if there's a whole thing, google it. But you can estimate or learn more about how you work by using the Pomodora method and it will teach you to be more time aware and you will be able to and then goal know, Oh, it takes me to Pomodoro's, which is the name for the twenty five minute work interments. It takes me to Pomodoros to do something like this. It takes me one Pomodoro to do this. It takes me three pomodoras. And who doesn't like to talk about their work in terms of tomatoes? I asked who. Right, so good. So many important ideas in there, and it makes me think about like a kind of higher level question, which is, what are a few signs that I had a productive day? I mean, I think obviously, back in the day and I think it. Maybe I'm asking for some historical context here too, but you know I'm back when you're asking for a friend, right. Yeah, yeah, you know, back in the day when work was really like a piece work at some level or making sure that the piece work was being done as desired. I guess if you're a manager or a supervisor, you know it is probably easier to do this, but it's a different style of work that we're doing now. How can someone that's in a less easy to manage roll know that they had for active day, though? That's such a great question, even it's, like everything else, apparently repels a long window answer. So here we go. I recommend my clients organize their task list because again, we're we're at the point where we got one centralized TASS list, one road coming at you, and you have to prioritize this task list because it's likely large, and that is one thing that clients may want to avoid is the what I call the reality check of our coaching time together when they look at their task list and realize this is huge. What do I do? Well, I could have you mark them high, medium and lower ABC, but my experience is that eighty percent of the things are high priority, which still doesn't help. So the advice I give my clients, that I swear this is what this will answer your question, is to assign every task what I call a progress date and a progress date is the very uncreative name for the day. You want to make progress on the task. All Right, one task will have multiple progress dates, and so you look at your calendar. So even you would look at your calendar and you would see, you know, thirty one ethans smiling back with there's really great classes. So you would see thirty one evens. And when when you have your big, you know, hundred item task list, you would say, okay, I'm going to give this task to April twenty one ethan, and I'm going to give this task to April Twenty eight Ethan, and this task can go to September two eighth and, because that doesn't need to be done until day. So you delegate all your tasks to future Ethans and you want to be kind to them because they're your friends and you love them. You want them to experience joy and success and to leave work feeling like they have been productive. So you do not overload April twenty eight Ethan. You give him three to five to seven tasks, depending on how large they are, and no more. You don't give that, you don't give that eight and twenty five things to do, because that Ethan will that's just mean to April twenty eight, even we don't want it and we love him. So when you get to April twenty eight, Ethan opens up his task list and says, who previous Ethans have given me four things that I really need to do today. So I work on this one. I get it to a point where I'm waiting on somebody else. So I'm at a stopping point. So I'm going to change the progress date on this one to May fifth and I'll follow up with that person if I haven't heard from them. So that one's gone. Three left this one. I thought it was important when I added it, but really this is not a critical task right now, so I'm just going to delete it. You know, I had the best intentions when I put it on there, but it's not critical. It was three months ago. It seemed interesting, but it's not critical now. So I have two more things. This one is a once and done. I've got to, you know, write this report and then it's done. So I delete it and that leaves this one. It's five o'clock and I just didn't get to this today. That's going to happen every day, Ethan, because we're human and we have and job security is having more to do than we have time to do it. So the last task will say, all right, I think I'm going to go to a look ahead and you know April, thirty, April, you know the thirty even looks like he could handle this. I'll put it...

...on that task list. Soak. Long Story Short, a productive day is when you have attended to the tasks you assigned yourself to make progress on that day. It is not emptying the to do list. If you emptier to do list you have no job. That is not real. That's not reality. You so getting the things done that you test yourself to get done that day and knowing what you got on to do tomorrow. That's productivity. That's blips that allows a person to go to sleep without waking up in the middle that I going I forgot to do. So that's what I say. So good progress, NAP perfection. Okay, one of the things that gets in our way throughout the day. It used to just be email, like in the beginning, email was awesome and we loved it and we only got emails from people we knew and and it was fun and easy, and now here we are with you know, for me, a problem spot for me is linkedin messages, because the ones that get replied to now go at the top and so somebody've been meaning to get to could be like dozens of people below now and they disappear. And of course, as we're talking about productivity and tasks and messages, the reason it's so relevant to customer experiences, and you already told a story of a manager who needs to be investing time and thought into thinking about his team members right because they needn't want that feedback. It's about making people feel seen and heard and understood, and certainly I'm not making Julie feel seen when I forget to respond to her linkedin message because it's thirty thirty down now. And then, of course we have slack and if you're in more than one group, I mean goodness knows, that thing is lit up with dozens of things to look at. How you're trying to find you know, is this an update for everybody, or is this something that someone needs from me? Because it could be in a group channel, but it's specifically a need for me give us a high level pass on all of these digital communication channels. And obviously it's not just me. I think everyone feels some degree of overwhelm around it. Like break down the state of affairs across digital channels and and some of the common problems and or solutions that you're seeing or recommending the state of affairs of digital media are that, as you mentioned, just some of the ways of communicating. First it was just email, then we stacked on top of that instant messaging, then we stacked on top of that, you know, text messaging. Then we stacked on top of that share point messages and linkedin messages, and so everything got stacked, nothing got removed, everything was additive. So the first thing I recommend in a team of people who communicate regularly with each other is to talk about communication, talk about how we are going to communicate, make some agreements that we will use email for this, we will use slack for this, we will in our emails name people by name in our emails. We are not going to copy everybody and on the planet. We are not going to reply all and say thanks. So we agree to certain rules of engagement with email in order to mitigate the overflow of information and that medium. We agree on some rules of engagement and slack. So we make sure that the right team is being addressed the right question and people are using, you know, direct messaging appropriately, because we don't need to ask the entire team. That's only meant something, that's only meant for Ethan, for example. So we communicate about communication. I live the philosophy strive for progress, not perfection, as specially with digital communication, if we can get our hands around eighty percent of it, then we are rook stars, because we can't possibly eliminate one hundred percent of unwanted email. So we can't. It's ridiculous. So if we can just chip away at it and continue to make progress on these things and not just throw up our hands and say I give up, then because giving up you'll just end up being piled on more and more and more until all of a sudden it's affecting your productivity in a very negative way. So talk is with with the people with whom you frequently communicate about how to use digital media and also when to hold the question for the next team meeting. There are so many slap messages that could be prevented by someone having a discussed with Ethan, you know notes in their phone, for example, listening all the things that you talked with Ethan Matut when they meet one on one on Friday, because... is so much more effective to talk about five things on that in that Friday meeting. Then it's send five emails or five slack messages and and to deal with the ones, etc. ESTC. We oftentimes over communicate over email people, over interrupt them, over slack them, when we ourselves don't have a well functioning task list. So we interrupt other people because we ourselves are afraid we will for get to ask them later. So it's that fear that I'm going to forget to talk to Ethan about this, this that prompts me to do these ones. Its communications with Ethan. If I had a good task list or a good discussed with Ethan list, then I would feel comfortable that I'm not going to forget to talk to him about that saying and I don't need to send a oneoff communication about it. Really good tips here, and I'm sure that we do that sometimes to our customers, to and or our prospects. Instead of batch batching conversation points, we just kind of went off one off. One off, I've heard you call unopened emails UNMADE decisions. Yes, I'd love to get into here is like the real overwhelm. I mean, you know, it's easy to say, Gosh, there's a lot of noise in my inbox, but these are real feelings and I guess also to the way we talk about it probably affects the way we perceive the Inbox as well. But I guess start with that unmade decisions and maybe some of the feelings that then result from having dozens or hundreds or I mean, this is just nuts to me. My inbox right now is eight emails and all of them have been touched right right, mine as well, like I I'll fall behind for a couple days at a time, but then on my like I'm back. Onyx, I don't like gun made decisions. Talk about UNMADE decisions and maybe the psychology of it, because I'm sure you've talked with people who have ten unread messages and ten thousand unread passages and everything in between, Fiftyzero on your I mean seriously, that it can really range. And if you if a person views their inbox as a storage facility, okay, just and it just things will pile up. I've got unlimited storage. I love that term. I've got unlimited storage? Really? You think so in your brain. You have unlimited storage in your brain, but people will will. It's a again, the fallacy, the cognitive fallacy, of I don't need to process this because it's an ever expanding storage facility. And by design, if you work your email the way that inboks is structured, it is last and first out. Okay, because the most recent emails are at the top. And when we think of it that way, I'm working on the last thing for the most the thing that just arrived first before the thing that's been waiting for two days. We realize that's that's not logical, that's that's not how I should be doing this. So I encourage clients to think about not just unread mail, I mean Ethan, I all of it. Everything that hits your inbox is something on which you need to make a decision, and there's good names. You do not have to decide the fate of the world it. All it is is you have to decide whether it is something that needs to be added to your task list, and in that there are lots of task management tools that in which you can forward an email to the tool and it will create a task for you with the content of the email in it. My favorite is outlook, where you can just click and drag an email to outlook tasks. But so tasking is something is the first decision making. You know, is this an action item that I need to do later? You know, versus, is this an action item that I need to that I can get done in a couple of minutes, that I'm just going to go ahead and do it now and then delete what was sent to me. So task it for later. Can either file or delete the email. Do it now and either file or delete the email, keeping in mind if you reply to an email, you have your sentime, but delete it out right because it's just not necessary. Or file it because it is a business record or important piece of reference material. Get it, but in filing it, don't just slap a label on it, really get it out of your enbox into a folder. So if you do one of those four things to an email, it doesn't remain in the INBOX. It's gone, it's been processed, it's onto its next step in its life and you know exactly what has been attended to and what hasn't, because what's in your inbox hasn't been attended to and hello. Can you imagine if we left our postal mailboxes full? I mean we pulled out a bill and open it up, yeah, I'll pay that later, shoved it b the mail box. We would...

...never do that. So the email inbox was structured around the assumption of the old paper inbox that would sit on the corner of someone's desk, that Pete things will get put in there, they get picked up, dealt with and then they go and the the go into the outbox. It wasn't a storage container, but we're treating our email inboxes as if it is. So it just to kind of change the visual here. I recommend to my clients to view their email inbox as a train station platform. The emails are on their scurrying around amongst each other and getting ready to board a train and go away, either to be filed, either to go on the action item list or just to be deleted all together. And if we encourage I was that's Aye, force force, encourage ourselves to make the decision quickly, all the better because there is no tomorrow. There is there's no tomorrow. I'll do this tomorrow. There is no tomorrow. All tomorrow is going to bring is say it with me, more you, more and more messages. Yeah, that means because so that's tomorrow. So we have to trust ourselves to make decisions and make them quickly. Train Station, not a storage facility. Now, I mean, I've been thinking about this quite a bit and I'm curious, really curious, for your take on it. I've been thinking about digital pollution in particular for well over a year now, since we kind of arrived at this language to capture what we describe as unwelcome digital distractions. Some of that is just, you know, these reply alls that you mentioned earlier, like this did need to be a reply all some of it. Some of it is just totally unsolicited, poorly targeted, like I can't tell you how many emails I personally get trying to offer me it services which are absolutely not in my zone of influence or authority or decisionmaking here at bomb bomb like at all. And then, of course, some of it is things pretending to be something that they're not. It's not from WHO it says it's from. This wink is in safe to click. This attachment is actually malware. Like talk about that layer of the quantity of I think because I think the feeling is I'm going into this train station trying to, you know, get everyone on to the right train, but there's a bunch of stuff on this platform, you know, there's some there's some con artists, there's some stans on that train platforms, like I don't even know what I'm dealing with here. There are some people who mean me ill, who are out to get me, and it can get hard to tell who is who. So we end up approaching the platform with the same degree and we treat everybody on the platform almost with the same degree of skepticism. You know, is this really from Ethan, or has he been, you know, as this count been been copied by someone, you know, else more nefarious? The digital pollution, and by the way, dear first name, was extraordinary. It was such an extraordinary look at at this problem, and thank you, Ethan, for putting that together, to educate all of us on on the issue, because digital pollution, and you gave me a language for it, to which I love. Digital pollution is make isn't sewing the distrust? Over and over again we approach our email inbox, as you know, with our our shield and our sword ready to go in and do battle with the email, and to some extent that is so here's my advice, because it can'tnot give it for some reason. My advice is not to live in your email. There are people who have all their notifications turned off and it being bonds and booms every time another message comes in and they stop whatever they're doing and they go into the email and they look at it and then they come back and, aside from the fact that that that costs time and our I mean it's an interruption, it's a distraction, it steals focus, but it puts us in a bad mood. So if we have to approach this, you know, all armored up, then let's go into our email and process it in regularly scheduled intervals. Let's just kind of get instead of being having it open all day long so that you can be instantly responsive to every message you receive. Go in first thing in the morning, you know, before lunch, after lunch, light afternoon. I mean, just just pick your times, however many you need to feel like you are appropriately responsive and don't engage with the negativity anymore than you have to and, of course, block what you can and be skeptical and delete do a shift, delete on things that we really just need to go away. report that the the spam. You know, do the...

...things that we all have to do to try to keep the numbers down. But just work, work for task list, work from your task list, not from your email. Email is a is another task. It's not our work. Really good. It's in that's a certainly a blurry line for me and I'm sure for a lot of people. And I think something really, really powerful that you said is that, you know, when there are bad actors in the mix, it calls everything and everyone into question, and that is one of the reasons we wanted to give digital pollution a name. Do you have it? What do you call that? Before, like was it kind of noise and overwhelmed. I called an email overload. I mean it just really I'm not that creative. So what it is digital pollution? No, it's so, so wonderful talk about you know. So the way we actually got to this. I don't know if you knew this and by the way, I did not have very much to do at all with the documentary. It really was a lot of the rest of our team as working on the book, which we called Human Center of Communication and the subtitle is is a business case against digital pollution. I've read it and it's a great book. Thank you. Like. So what what do you think about this human centered approach? You when I think one thing, that one thing that I would say, I guess, and teeing you up to take this any direction you want to, is that one of the goals of a human centered approach in the midst of all of this noise and pollution, is that we're making it easier for someone to say yes, because we're meeting them over halfway with helping them understand why this is in front of them, what the opportunity is and how they should proceed should they choose to do it. So we're doing on our side if we're being human centered in the way that we're reaching out to people in light of all this noise and pollution. We're just trying to make it easier for someone to understand and say yes, whether that's yes, I'll return this phone call, yes, I'll reply to this email, yes, I'll fill out that surveys, I'll make that introduction. Yes, I read this and I understand, like just all the big and little yeses that we that we need and so what do you think about what are some of the thoughts you have around a human centered approach? It takes more time, I mean on the on the front end. It takes a lot more time, which is what makes the doers of IT Sigh. They are on the because they are under the perception that they don't have that time to vote to make their communication human centered. And the question I have asked clients who have who are in sales positions and say yeah, I just I just need numbers. I've just got us. I've got a Senet a hundred emails a week and that, I say, how effective is that? What is that doing for you? How much time are you spending on these hundred emails and what is your what is the Roi On that time? And then do an experiment, a pilot test per se, of doing some research on the person before you you send the communication, you know, finding out more about their company, tailoring the approach you know to them and doing maybe a good Pomadoreo, you know, half a Pomodoreo on a client and then in your two clients per or two prospects, per Pomadoura, for example, so that you don't end up down a rabbit hole of research, which is really easy to do. So set limits on the amount of research you will do on a person to in order to reach out to them as a person, and see how many you can get done in that time in that pilot and then compare it to your spray and pray approach with with the other. So test it for yourself. I mean I can probably tell you which one is going to work, you know, but you know it. Seeing is believing, experiencing is believing and it and it doesn't take a tremendous amount of effort to do a study, you know, of your of your own work, a customer focused way and a me focused way. To interact with people and find out for yourself. Yeah, and here we are at that efficiency and effectiveness crux again, and obviously the answer is both and we have to find a balance in that. But you know, hearing you, it just reminds me that you not only are we more likely to get our yes in the immediate sense if we make people feel seen, heard understood, give them something of value, make it clear how to proceed, but that usually is something that adds up over time to a bigger yes, yes, I'll commit to leave my job enjoying you and your team at this new company. or Yes, I'll sign that three year contract. or Yes, I'll sign that to your renewal, like these usually roll up. Yes, I'll refer you to all my colleagues. Yeah, I mean, yeah, and that's all trust based and it's all based in these small moments of making people feel seen and hurt and understood. Uh, it's about authenticity. To yes, it isn't all about them feeling seen, heard and understood, but to go bring a brown on the conversation. It's about making ourselves vulnerable and disclosing that the commonalities that we have...

...with someone else. Approaching them as individuals is a lot more. You're putting a lot more of yourself out there then you are with a spray and pray. So vulnerability is strength and putting ourselves out there as humans, connecting to humans is is a beautiful and authentic thing. It makes me feel better as an individual, as a salesperson. It makes me feel seen and heard and understood and and just allow yourself to be authentic when you're communicating and do you find people in your work that you're getting to know personally? Obviously, and trying to guide them to to success through mutually defined version of success or vision of success. Do you find hang ups around this effectiveness versus efficiency, or even around being authentic, like the safety of keeping some distance and some digital handonimity, like do you run into these and how to you just I want to get them to leave folks with, you know, a couple of things to think about and maybe even do. You've already provided plenty, by the way. Thanks. But yeah, but around this like, because I think this is a really a it feels very timely and be I think it's one of those things that there's not as much conversation about. I will speak to the vulnerability issue, because that that one, I think, is a very misunderstood but incredibly productive way to work. When we are willing to, within reason, open ourselves up to the art the other humans with whom we work, we open up lines of communication, we increase trust and you ask me when I encounter this in my work, it's typically what I'm working with a leader, and leaders, particularly at companies, where there has to be this they feel there needs to be this wall in between who I am as a person and who I am as a leader and I cannot get personally involved in the laws of my employees. And I said, well, where is that perception gotten you? While you know I've got pretty I'm always training new folks because there's high turnover. You don't say, and reorienting an into the person saying you know, a leader, saying you do not hang up your humanity when you walk into that office or that plant. You don't. I mean you don't just take that part of you and put it on the hook and walk into there is this complete automaton. You are a person working with people. In order for them to trust you, you have to trust them a little bit too, and within reason, they're making yourself vulnerable to people you know, saying I hate this too. I don't. I'm with you on this. I don't. I don't understand. I'm frustrated. My family is stress. I mean, look at what the pandemic did to all of us. It made us vulnerable and those who who shut down and said no, I'm not having any mental health issues were kidding themselves and not being authentic. So with leaders and with anybody who is wanting to have human centered communication, tearing down some of those walls of perfectionism. I've got to be. I've got to present us this consummate professional who never, never makes a mistake, versus a person who is confused and scared and worried, as you know, just like everyone else. The effectiveness that comes from that will be a deeper relationship, a better with with the the client or the colleague, where there's longer longevity, and the relationship where there is more proactive communication, where the leader doesn't necessarily get surprised by things that have gone wrong because there's trust that someone can come to someone else and say, I messed up and I need to you know, I have a problem, I need to help solving it. So when there's that trust, it is that proactive versus reactive thing that keep you on. I want to be more proactive. Will then be vulnerable and they're like what? So that? That's where I encounter it most often. So good. I really really appreciate that and I was thinking trust all along and you just use trust is like the mic drop on that excellent take for folks listening. If you've enjoyed this time with Dr Melissa Gracious, as I have two others with two other doctors by the way two thousand and two with Dr Eric Hoffman, who is the cyberpsychology and Cybersecurity experty. I'm also privileged to work with him here at bombomb he's our director of it. He was on episode two thousand and two, and then on two thousand and four Dr Andrew Brodsky, who, like Melissa, is expert and academic at workplace, communication and activity. Both of them, like Melissa, were featured into...

...your first name as well, so I'll link those up. We write all of these up with video highlights and relevant links. I'll find, Melissa, that blog post that you referenced earlier, your most popular one, I'll point even more traffic too, is video Scottiana too. It's awesome there. I want to just multiply it. Dibs Ted. So before I let you go, Melissa, we do a couple of things here toward the end. Of course, let people know where to find you, but first maybe give a shout out or thank you to someone who's had a positive impact under life or career, and then kind of put on the customer hat and mention a company or brand that you really appreciate for the experience they deliver for you as a customer. Okay, first I'll start with the person I'd like to say thank you too. I was a twenty something know it all and her first corporate job, thinking I'm here to teach those people some things. I don't know if anyone else has ever felt that way, but you luckily, thankfully, my wonderful boss, her name is Ellen Williams, and she dealt with my ego in stride. She helped me realize where I all the things that I didn't need to learn, but also recognize my strength. But I will say this. The best advice she ever gave me, and there was lots of good advice, was when she said, and I Melissa. She said ours. Ellen says, Melissa, strive every days to work yourself out of a job. Strive every day to work yourself out of a job, and I look here, I said that's ridiculous. I want my job and it's in because no. But see, when I say strive every day to work yourself out of a job, what I mean is improve processes and empower and cross train other people. You know, learn more efficient ways to do what you're doing. And over time and in my career, what I learned is by doing those things you make yourself indis sensible at the next level of the organization. Being indispensable in your current position as a recipe for never getting promoted. Working yourself out of a job means you are indispensable at the next level, and then at the next level and then at the next level. So I help my clients be more efficient as a way of working themselves out of their jobs. So that's a thank you to her that I would like to say. And I and secondly, in two thousand and nine, I met a woman by the name of Jen Dangelo who was a coach at the Tennessee Small Business Development Center network. Okay, so she's a business coach for small business. I was in Tennessee at the time and part of our text dollars go toward these small business development centers. So on try and every entrepreneur that comes to me says, what is your best advice? Find your local SBDC and engage with them, have them help you. And so she we sort of working together in two thousand and nine and she coached me through digital media. She coached me to create youtube videos and to and to be present on social media, to write a newsletter that's been going on ever since then and to think about really human centered ways. She always even then, even in Ohnin, and she she was thinking of ways to to be human centered in these mass communications. And I credit gen D Angelo with both. I mean she's also my website designer and and does so much graphic design work for me still, but she is my coach for all things reaching out and being human and authentic and vulnerable with my my clients. Beautiful. Where can we find her in her work? You can find her and her work Jen d Angelo, J and Den glocom. You can find her work there and you can see her work on my website, which is Melissa Graciouscom but unfortunately my last name is not spelled the way it's pronounced. So you is Gr at I, as looks like grittious, but we pronounced that gracious, Super Melissa Graciouscom with a team, not a see. And you can also find Melissa gracious on linked in. Melissa, thank you so much for your time. Really really enjoyed it. Love who you are and what you're about, and thank you for investing your time in the documentary as well. Absolutely then you guys. Bombomb does amazing work and thanks for reaching out to me in the first place, where a very, very human centered communication approach. Awesome. Thank you. We have art in box constantly foam. We constantly have messages coming in. Work emails just went up to two hundred and one. Have Ninety nine plus six hundred and seventy nine on ready emails. We're to talk about a...

...major problem. My name is Kip Bodner and I'm the chief marketing officer at help spot. I probably get ten to fifteen phone calls a day unwanted, and I probably get fifty a hundred emails a day unwanted. When I think about noise and trying to get that out of my life, I think about it through my most scarce resource, was just my time and attention. Is it worth my attention over here versus, like me, spending a moment with my son or cooking a meal with my son? The answers almost always know. We also know that the by product of that noise is feeling overwhelmed, feeling like there's not enough signal and that you feel discombobulated or confused. That's at least how I feel. So I also tried to protect myself from those feelings as well, watch dear first name, a four part first of its kind documentary series now on Youtube, and explore how digital pollution is eroding our ability to community, hit with each other and build trust. Thanks for listening to the customer experience podcast. Remember the single most important thing you can do today is to create and deliver a better experience for your customers. Continue Learning the latest strategies and tactics by subscribing right now in your favorite podcast player, or visit bombombcom slash podcasts.

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