I had a call first thing this morning with the Chief Executive of one of my clients to get his input into a project I’m working on. We had a great discussion and, as we approached the end of our scheduled session, I thanked him for taking the time to speak with me and wished him a pleasant rest of the day. His response surprised me.
Because after he’d said how much he’d enjoyed our discussion, he thanked me for bringing it to an orderly conclusion within the allotted time.
The fact that a senior leader within a large organisation, who no doubt has numerous meetings each day, found finishing a meeting on schedule sufficiently noteworthy to comment on it struck me as somewhat unusual.
It reminded me of a time a while back when I was writing an article for a professional publication. We’d agreed a topic, a word limit and a deadline. And so I wrote the specified number of words on the agreed topic and submitted it a couple of days in advance of the deadline.
I received a gushing reply from the editor, thanking me profusely for providing her with what we had agreed. For someone to do so was, it appeared from our subsequent conversations, somewhat of a rarity.
Which brings me to my point. A ridiculously easy way to make a positive impression is simply to do what you say you will. If you say you’ll be somewhere at 9am, be there at 9am. If you say you’ll speak for twenty minutes, speak for twenty minutes. If you say you’ll need half an hour of someone’s time, wrap it up well before you hit the thirty minute mark.
This is not rocket science. I’d go so far as to say it’s just basic good manners. Yet as the anecdotes above illustrate, such courtesy cannot be taken for granted. Which is odd, as it’s such an easy way to make a positive impression. Just as being late, over-running or missing a deadline is an easy way to make a negative one.
So be the person who does what they say they will. Every time.