The power of being a decent human being

Working in the finance industry, people assume that it’s just about the money. It’s not. It’s about people. But when talking about finances and investments and pinging off emails or messages, it can be easy to forget that there is a human being on the receiving end and the way you communicate with them can have a profound effect.

When I first started working in an office, the telephone was the main communication tool. The ethos was to try and return every client call by the close of play that day.

Now emails and text messages have overtaken the phone calls I receive by a long way. I do my best to respond to these messages as promptly as I can. Yet why are so many of us having “conversations” via emails and texts, rather than picking up the phone and discussing things? We can either chat on a video message if you want to see the person or even just a regular call can solve things more quickly and more easily than reviewing a long email chain, where nuance can get lost and tone of voice completely misunderstood.

The mental load of a Friday message

What’s even worse, is when people email or text late on a Friday afternoon. If it’s something urgent, then that’s understandable. If it’s just to get something off your list though then why can’t it wait until Monday morning? 

It’s all about being human beings and acknowledging we all have emotions. It might help to remember how that other person might feel when you email or text them and how it might affect their weekend, their much needed down time. Could it worry them? Stress them out? Mean they feel obliged to work? Is that really what you want to achieve? That’s why, Friday afternoon messages (which are not crucial) are a no for me.

We need to be authentic

When talking on the phone or in person , one way of building up rapport is to ask open questions, such as ‘How was your weekend?’ or ‘What has your day been like?’ to try and build a connection with the person you are talking to.

I have noticed in emails and text messages that, after the standard ‘Hi Kunle’, some people like to start their message with ‘I hope you are well’. My question back is, is this really needed? I get the intended sentiment, however imagine if that person is not well?  It’s not even a question. It’s a comment at best and is not going to spark a genuine conversation. It is only one way and suggests a lack of real interest.

Would it not be easier to either ask the question ‘How are you?’ or go straight into what you want to inform the person: ‘I’m interested in speaking to you about your financial affairs’ or ‘I’d like to help you with your tax affairs’ and be as polite and authentic as you can. If you know the person, how about trying to remember something that person told you and ask them a question based on that?

We all have our different ways of communicating, our individual styles. But communication – even electronic – is a powerful tool for connection and without that authenticity you miss a vital opportunity to bond. For me when I see ‘I hope you are well’, it doesn’t make me feel engaged with the person that has typed that. So, I’d always say, don’t assume, ask.