How Followup Can Make All The Difference in the World

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This is another in a series of “How To Be Taken Seriously” posts, which highlight one specific example and way to be taken seriously, both in the business and personal world.

About two and a half years ago, the last time I was in Phuket, I met someone. She was lovely, amazing, and was everything I wanted in a female. I was smitten from the second we met. As most vacations do, though, mine came to a close way too fast. The last morning, right after breakfast, I gave her my contact info, and she looked deep into my eyes and promised me she’d email and call.

Of course, nothing happened. I never heard from her again. I was sad for a time, but life went on. Below is a photo of me and my new friend, back in January of 2009, when we first met.

Li-li and I in happier times, January, 2009.

So, imagine my discomfort, as I’m sitting at breakfast this morning, my first full day in Phuket, and who comes lumbering down the main concourse of the resort?

Yup. Li-li. Two years older, and of course, the years have been good to her. She’s filled out rather nicely, her hair has come in, and she’s gotten curves in all the right places.

She recognized me immediately.

“Hi, Li-li,” I said. It’s been a long time.”

She didn’t say anything, rather, just ate six bananas at once. I knew she was binge eating because she was embarrassed – She’d failed to fulfill a promise, and she knew I knew.

“What ever happened to you,” I asked. “You said you’d call. I guess you just got busy, huh? It can’t be easy having to eat 50 pounds a day in roughage alone. I know how it goes,” I said, trying to play it off. The hurt was easy to hear in my voice, though.

“Shall we take a photo together, for old times?” I asked. She agreed. I put my arm around her, and smelled her familiar smell… Dead meat and old bugs. I remembered her smell like it was yesterday. The following is the result. Can you see through the forced smiles? They’re strained. We’re smiling, but we’re really not there. We’d much rather be somewhere else, where calls come when they’re supposed to, when promises mean something…

It’s tougher this time, to smile through the pain…

What could have been done to prevent this uncomfortableness, this awkwardness? How could we have avoided it? How can you avoid the same pain? (Here’s where the post gets serious, if you’ve been following along this much waiting for it…)

1) The majority of people are full of shit. You need to accept that and be different than them. I learned this early on in PR. If you say you’re going to do something, do it. That goes for getting a reporter figures, calling someone back when you say you’re going to, or showing up on time. Very few people do it. Get it done.

2) We were given two ears and one mouth for a reason. It’s amazing how much more you can learn if you listen before you talk. And I mean, really listen. Don’t just wait for someone to finish talking so you can say something. Truly listen. React to what you hear, not what you think you’re hearing because you’re not listening. Take the time to listen, process, then react. Your reactions will be better and more true.

3) Under, under, under promise, and over, over, over deliver. Can’t stress this enough. No one comes in on-time and under-budget anymore. You do it, and you’re the hero. you’ll be recommended over and over again.

4) Self-promote the hell out of yourself – but do it via “help.” When self-promotion is done right, it’s not self-promotion. It’s help. Help means you show your talents off, all the time, by helping other people. When you do that, you’re recommended, and you’re never a show-off.

5) Finally, be really careful and wise, when giving a pachyderm your heart. They’re not all as nice as Dumbo.

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