When Cookies Are Tossed

Yesterday in the car, my 16-month-old daughter decided — or at least her stomach decided — that her breakfast would be better located in the car, rather than in her. It reminded me of this story, told by Riviera Advisors’ Jeremy Eskenazi.

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The Anti-Social and the Social

With all the talk of social media and
social recruiting, not everyone is acting so socially. Here are four of
the habits that drive me most nuts and three good ones. First, the four antisocials. Then I’ll get to the socials.

Antisocial #1: Flakiness

About
six weeks ago I contacted a fellow who had left his job as an executive
director of a non-profit to take a similar job at a similar
organization. Let’s call him Adam.

“Perhaps
we could talk briefly and catch up,” I asked Adam.

“Great,” he said. “I
have availability next Friday at 11:00 a.m. Pacific/2:00 p.m. Eastern.
Please call me at home at this number…”

That
Friday I had planned a day off of work. We’re never fully off work, and
it seemed to
be one of his few open times, so I obliged. I took Friday off of work
but slipped out of what I was doing to call Adam at 11:00 a.m.
Pacific/2:00 p.m. Eastern.

You
guessed it. He was a no-show.

Of course – these things happen to any of
us. Meetings run late, or pressing work or personal matters come up.
Or, being human, we simply forget things. That’s all fine. I figured he would call or email and apologize, letting me
know something had come up.

Instead,
I never heard from him. A month later, I emailed him about something
else, and while I was at it, asked him in my email, “by the way, I was
curious what ever happened to you that Friday of our call. I guess I was a little disappointed, to be honest.”

He emailed
back and nonchalantly said: “I’m not sure what I ended up doing that day.” Clearly, he was completely
unbothered by the whole thing.

Antisocial #2: Twittering While You Talk

There
are a number of things one can now do while talking on the phone:
watch CNBC, send instant messages, follow Tweets on Twitter, and
so on. Some of these things are OK. Some are not.

It’s
pretty easy to tell when you don’t have someone’s attention. They
answer your questions in a non-sequitur manner, or go on a mental
safari while you’re on the phone with them, as they watch their Twitter
feed.

I’m not saying that
multitasking is bad. I do it. You do it. We all do it. We drive, listen
to the radio, eat curly fries, and sometimes talk on the phone – all at
once.

But if one of your
tasks – listening and speaking — requires brainpower – your other task
should be relatively mindless, like deleting files from your computer
or something. If not, the person on the other end of the phone can see
right through it.

Antisocial #3: Monologues and Soliloquys

Not
long ago I got on the phone with someone to talk about a conference ERE is putting on in Florida this Fall. The person on the other end spoke for
about seven non-stop draining minutes and then, after the life had been sucked out of me,
said, “So what’s new with you? You’re quiet today.”

I
wasn’t the least bit quiet that day. Not an iota. But a speech followed
by a speech didn’t strike me as a conversation.

Antisocial #4: Multimedia Repetition

I
recently got a message from a PR person, going on for about two minutes
in detail about this recruiting vendor’s new product version. I
listened to all of the message, and called back.

When
I called back, I told her that I received and listened to her message. She proceeded to
repeat it all on the phone. I tried interrupting her to tell her that I
received her message and can address it. Again, she went on to finish
repeating what she had already said on a phone message. When we got off
the phone, she told me that just to follow up, she’d send a press
release with the same information via email.

… and 3 to Appreciate

Here are some of the things that create good communication. Some of them are very small but go a long way.

Social #1: The Note-Taker

I
had set up a call recently with a recruiting executive at a large
defense contractor. After a few minutes, he got all quiet and stopped
responding. He had seemingly gone on a little mental safari.

“He must be Twitttering!” I thought. (See above.) “He must be sending instant messages!”

So I asked him. “Mike – are you still there?”

“Yes,” he said. “I’m just taking notes about some of the things you’re saying, so I don’t forget.”

Taking
notes! In 2010! To have someone not only listening to you, but engaged
enough to be taking notes – this was refreshing and unusual.

Social #2: The Night Owl

On February 3 I engaged in a game of phone tag with a recruiter and Pinnacle Society member.

Instead
of giving up after a couple of calls, she told me when her nighttime
commute was, when her morning commute was, how long the commute was,
and what time zone she was in. She also said that she had time to speak
that night.

I was able to
catch her that night. What she did wasn’t radical, but a lot of people would have thrown in the towel with the phone tag game, or never indicated to the specific extent that she did that the game could conclude with an actual call. When we eventually spoke, she
was an engaged listener, and it was clear why she’s so successful.

Social #3: The iPhoner

Recently
I attended a dinner of a “California Staffing Professionals” group in southern California.
We exchanged pleasantries and business cards and a Newcastle and so on.
One of the recruiters I met, however, rather than asking for my card,
said he’d love to keep in touch, and typed my contact information into
his mobile smart phone.

Obviously
he may erase it any time he wants, but this made me feel more
“permanent” than had he tossed my business card into his briefcase.