Within your company, if you’re publishing and distributing material (intranet, company magazine et cetera) you should take note of the people who send you feedback. You should learn the names of the people who point out errors, or ask for further information, or ask for clarification. These people care about what you’ve produced, and they’re the ones who will be talking about your stuff to their colleagues, team members and managers.
Whatever people have to say about your work or your messages, be sure to respond in a positive and respectful manner. I see too many professionals responding to brief query emails with even briefer answers. Answering the query is not enough – this is a real opportunity to engage directly with the audience, the workforce, and have a personal impact.
Answering the query is not enough; you must:
- demonstrate that you’ve have heard and understood the query / concern – this means reflecting back their very own sentiments to the querent without judgment. Consider it ‘active listening’;
- explain that you can understand why they’ve brought this matter up with you;
- thank them for bringing the matter to you (as opposed to just grumbling about it to everyone in their department);
- address the matter directly, explaining enough of your background thought processes to justify your answer – there’s no need to be aggressive or defensive, just be conversational;
- demonstrate your willingness to be flexible; let them know that you might well consider this issue again in the future or perhaps you’ll discuss it with your team / manager at your next team meeting;
- thank them again for their email / phone call and let them know you’re open and available for anything more.
Does that sound do-able? Is it close to what you do already?