Power Climb Rule 2 | How to get things done by asking for help


You know people like this at the office.

They always seem to be having fun. They’re social butterflies, engaging everyone, moving cube to cube, talking, smiling, laughing and generally just enjoying being at the office. You can’t imagine how they get any work done. But they turn out to be one of the most productive and highly regarded people in the company. It’s annoying right?

Want to know how they do it?

They get help.

Many high achievers worry that asking for help is a sign of weakness. That they must do everything on their own otherwise others may believe they’re not up to the job.

Some think that if you want something done properly, you just have to do it yourself.

Ambitious women, especially, have this feeling that asking for help will somehow indicate that they’re not as good as their male counterparts. They’re afraid to come off as whiners.

This type of thinking is self-defeating and a barrier to your career growth.

Doing everything on your own sucks precious time into the black hole of grunt work.

Asking for help i.e. delegating, on the other hand, actually reflects leadership qualities. First, it shows that you can influence others to follow you. Secondly, it reflects your ability to manage and motivate others. Finally, it gives you the opportunity to think strategically on best use of your time for high visibility.

Robert Greene, in his The 48 Laws of Power, writes:

Use the wisdom, knowledge, and legwork of other people to further your own cause. Not only will such assistance save you valuable time and energy, it will give you a godlike aura of efficiency and speed … Never do yourself what others can do for you.

The key, however, is to make sure you go about it the right way.

Robert Greene goes on to say:

There is an art to asking for help, an art that depends on your ability to understand the person you are dealing with, and not to confuse your needs with theirs.

It’s never a good idea to just blindly ask help. You’re naive if you think that people will help you out of the goodness of their heart. Everyone around you is there for the same reason – they want to grow their careers. So they have to believe that by helping you, they’re also helping themselves. You’ll never get someone’s best effort and quality if they think they’re doing you a favor.

To do this right, you’ll need to put your soft-skills to work.

Appeal to their self-interest

If you need to turn to an ally for help, do not bother to remind him of your past assistance and good deeds. He will find a way to ignore you. Instead, uncover something in your request, or in your alliance with him, that will benefit him, and emphasize it out of all proportion. He will respond enthusiastically when he sees something to be gained for himself.

– Robert Greene

Before you make the approach, do your homework. Find out what’s important to the other person and how helping you will benefit them. If they’re ambitious, you can offer to get them visibility by public recognition of their contribution. Or offer to share credit on the end-result if they make significant contributions. It could be as simple as an email thanking them for their crucial contribution, also including their manager in the CC. Not only will they happily accept, they will work their ass off to ensure you get the best quality.

For some others, you may have to offer quid pro-quo i.e. something in return. It could be a promise to help them on their next project or help them solve a problem they have today. Sometimes, people are motivated by external issues. Maybe you can offer to cover for them when they have to duck out for personal reasons. Or you can offer to help them look for a car, or house or even move.

Basically, if you can ensure that the other person is helped by helping you, you’re in.

Caution: It goes without saying that money and sex should never be a part of the conversation. Don’t offer money in return for help. It cheapens everything.

Similarly, never, ever, never (seriously, don’t even think about it) offer sex or anything closely related to sexual stuff in return. It makes you cheap and complicates things.

Set them up for success

Always make sure you’re asking the right person for help. The person’s expertise should match with what you’re asking them to do. Asking the marketing girl to help you with financials is probably a bad idea. It’s just not her expertise. Asking her to jazz up your PowerPoint is probably a better way to go.

It’s also best to do as much of the legwork and prep as possible before you hand over the task. Clearly communicate your expectations and deadlines. Then be available to help them along the way. Otherwise if things go wrong, they’ll throw you under the bus by proclaiming that you set them up for failure. You’ll be stuck redoing their work on top of your own. Set them up for success by making sure that all the guesswork and pre-work is done, especially if it’s not their area of expertise.

Check up on them often.

Not in the annoying “Hey, are you done yet?” way but more in the “Hey, I’m just checking to see how you’re doing. Can I help in any way?”

Offer to help as much as possible. Help them overcome challenges. Connect them with others who can help with other parts of the puzzle. Facilitate. Facilitate. Facilitate. This way, not only do you ensure their success, you guarantee your success.

Show gratitude

Who doesn’t love a pat on the back?

After getting the help you need, make sure to thank your co-worker as much as possible. Make it clear to them and their manager that you could not have completed your part without their input.

Go out of your way. Be genuine.

Give them more credit than they deserve. It won’t hurt you at all.

Nurture the relationship

Don’t you hate those friends and family members that reach out to you only when they need something?

Same goes for work colleagues.

By asking for and accepting a colleague’s help, you’ve created a relationship with that person. They now see you as a partner to their career and as someone they can trust. It’s your responsibility to build on that by checking up on them from time to time. Even if it is to reach out just to say hello.

They will gladly come back to help you again.

And this … is good for your career.

Manage others’ expectations and you manage your success

This article by Paul Tolton, Director at KPMG originally appeared on LinkedIn:

Managing Expectations

I recently had an earache. After several visits to my GP and numerous ineffective drops and pills, she sent me to an ENT doctor. I later found out it meant “Eyes Nose and Throat” doctor and not ENTertaining doctor as I had much hoped.

After reading three articles on the latest research on rhinoplasty, I was ushered into to his small neat office. The doctor was a well-rounded, soft-spoken gentleman whose attempt at growing a beard was more than slightly less than successful.

“I’ll just look in your ear,” he said which increased my confidence in his abilities immensely. He peered into my aural canal and made gentle but disparaging noises. “There is some debris in there.”

The next thing I know is that I am hearing one of the strangest sounds I have ever heard. It was as if he had taped the squeaking sound that a balloon makes when you pinch the end of it, played that sound backwards and then he added the sound of individual angry popcorn kernels popping. At first, I was delighted with this new noise, until the pain started.

It felt like a pterodactyl was attacking me eardrum. I gripped the chair and one of my legs flailed uncontrollably as pain ripped though my body. And it went on until it stopped.

I gathered my composure, wiping a single tear from my eye and asked, “Did you just vacuum my ear?” “Yeeeeees,” he said as he smiled, eyes bulging in muted excitement.

Give me a little warning

If you are going to do some non-evasive evasive mucking around with my lughole, please let me know beforehand. Give me a few moments to prepare, brace myself against the oncoming flood of terror and put on a manly facade.

Giving people warning allows them to prepare. Giving people warning is managing their expectations.

Imagine you are at home and a friend pops by and says, “Let’s go for a drive.” You leap into the passenger seat full of excitement and joy. Half an hour later and wildly exasperated, you turn back to get your passport. If your friend had said, “Let’s go for a drive to another country,” you would have grabbed your passport, iPod, some snacks, that book you keep promising yourself to read, some motion sickness tablets, a blanket and a set of signal flares just in case. If you are expecting a long journey, you prepare for a long journey. If you don’t know what to expect, how can you prepare?


If you are a manager setting a task, you need to be very clear about the expectations. If you throw a job at someone, maybe they will spend way too much time on it or dash it off while reaching level 324 on Candy Crush.

If you say to someone, “I am doing a presentation next Monday. I need some information about the Integrated Resorts focusing on original projected profits, actual profits and future profits. Spend no more than two hours on it and make it one page and no more than 500 words. Graphs would be useful. Please send it to me on Thursday morning,” I bet you would get want you want.

If you said, “I need something on casino profits, “you may end up with a 600 page history of Las Vegas including some strange speculations about the Hilton fire of ’81.

It takes a little more time, but you get want you want the first time and that saves time.

The missing context

Imagine you are heading back from a client and you get the following email from your manager. “Come and see me as soon as you get into the office.” How would you feel? Probably a little nervous and you would prepare to be shouted at.

If the message was, “We have possible new client that we are meeting tomorrow and we would like you on the team. Come and see me as soon as you get into the office. Thanks.” You would probably be excited and ready to contribute.

If we manage expectations, people are prepared.

Easy or hard?

Many years ago I did a two-month intensive course. At the interview for the course, they basically promised me hell. “Forget your friends for two months. You are going to lack sleep and lose weight. Go buy vitamins now.” And they delivered.

Because I knew what was coming up, I did prepare, right down to a study schedule and the 2 drinking days I gave myself as a reward.

If something is going to be difficult, say it. Never sell by covering something with icing sugar because the reality will dishearten and demotivate. And never promise the world when you can only deliver a small part of Madagascar. Be open and honest with your communication so people know what is coming.

If my ENT man had said, “I am about to vacuum your ear. This is going to hurt a bit but it will only last for two minutes” I would have been ready, willing and able. But he never said those words and I have a new doctor.


This article originally appeared in FastCompany



Most of us have had that coworker that seemed to be a perfect fit for the company or team. She always had the right answers. He seemed to know what needed to be done before the company leaders even did. And that “sixth sense” and insight was rewarded with responsibility, autonomy, accolades, and advancement.

“When employees bring those qualities, they’re perceived as leaders in the company, no matter what position they hold,” says Katharine Halpin, CEO and founding principal of The Halpin Companies, Inc., a leadership consultancy in Phoenix, Arizona. “They take ownership for problem solving and dissolving conflict. They naturally have this sort of alignment with the company.”

The good news is that becoming a super-employee isn’t some rarified secret. It’s a combination of skill set and mindset that you can begin to develop for yourself by focusing on these five key habits.


It’s hard to be a super-employee if the company’s needs are very different from your abilities, talents, and values, Halpin says. In addition, a 2015 research report by the Cicero Group found that one of the most important factors in employees consistently producing great work was recognition. Thirty-seven percent of respondents said that being recognized by a manager or by the company was the most important driver in great work. So, choosing to work where your work is valued is important.


Super-employees are studying the preferences and goals of their direct supervisors, their supervisors’ supervisors, and the company at large, says Gayle Lantz, founder of WorkMatters, Inc., a leadership consultancy in Birmingham, Alabama. They may be striving to participate in projects and meetings that aren’t part of their jobs, but which give them access and information to what company leaders think and need.

“They’re doing things above and beyond what other employees are doing, and they’re showing interest. They’re motivated and showing they want to learn what it’s like to be at the top,” she says.


Exceptional performers are able to maintain dual focus on both the task at hand, as well as how it fits into the bigger picture, Lantz says. If they don’t understand something, they get the information they need to make its importance clearer.

When you start looking at everyday tasks from both perspectives and truly understand what you need to do and why it needs to be done, you become more strategic and begin to anticipate what needs to be done—sometimes before others know what needs to be done, she says. In addition, you’re better able to prioritize so that your activities and energy are focused where they are of most value to the company, Halpin adds.


Keeping some open time in the day, such as scheduling time between meetings and blocks of time for simply thinking or working on projects that require concentration, can also supercharge performance, Halpin says. Super-employees are vigilant about scheduling everything from daily meetings to big projects to ensure that they have the best possible chance at a successful outcome.

“Sometimes, it’s just very practical actions—getting to places early, not rushing from meeting to meeting if you can help it—to give yourself time to do what you need to do. That may be thinking about the purpose of your next meeting, or getting a snack or drink so you’re not hungry or thirsty,” she says. Being harried, distracted, hungry, or otherwise uncomfortable because you’re too rushed is not going to allow you to do your best work and be most insightful, she adds.


High performers are in tune with the people around them and can sense when they need something. They possess soft skills like empathy and are able to relate well to other people because they take the effort to try to understand them, Lantz says.

“A large part of any business is helping people work together well. Super-employees make that a top priority. They look at relationships as something that’s critical to success in the business—not just doing the work,” she says.

Why loving what you do is good for your career


We’re all unique. Not only in our genetic make-up but also in our emotional and psychological make-up. Our uniqueness attracts us to certain subjects in school, pushes us to pursue an interest or hobby and drives our career choices.

For some, a career choice comes naturally. It was a calling. Or a gut feeling that led them down the path they pursued. To others, it was their destiny to become a doctor, lawyer, actor or politician or social worker.

No matter what you call it, those who encourage their inner voice to express itself and let it guide their life end up loving what they do. They also tend to become wildly wealthy or famous or both. But usually, these people don’t actively seek fame and fortune.

They just want to spend their life doing what they love. Because they love what they do, they naturally want to become better. So they work harder. Hard work leads to small incremental improvements. They get excited and aim for more. They become obsessive in their desire for constant improvement. They don’t care about the hard work or the long hours. They grind away. Lack of sleep is not an obstacle. Lack of a social life or a “work-life” balance goes completely unnoticed. But they do notice the success that comes from each tiny, incremental improvement. Their careers become a very important source of pleasure and fulfillment in life. They are happy.

Financial success, fame and power are usually just side products of their love.

It seems so simple. When you follow your unique inner voice, not only do you get to do what you love, you also achieve success.

So why aren’t we all doing this? Why aren’t we all successful? Why do a majority of us get stuck doing jobs we don’t necessarily like that much?

It’s because we reject our inner voice.

From the moment we’re born, there’s an immense external pressure to ignore that inner voice. We are shaped by the influences of others. Whether it’s from parents who seek to direct their kids into a lucrative and comfortable career path or the unconscious peer pressure that makes you feel embarrassed to be different. Subconsciously these influences drown out our inner voice and superimpose their own.

So we choose a career that “sounds right.”

If it’s a career that doesn’t really suit you, invariably you’re going to lose interest and feelings of dissatisfaction will grow. You may not even realize that the cause of your frustration is the misalignment between your career path and your inner voice. Instead, unlike someone who loves what they do, you will subconsciously begin seeking pleasure and fulfillment from outside your work. You’ll focus on “work-life balance” and place importance on your social life.

In the end, your career will suffer.

As you become increasingly less engaged in your career, you lose focus. The quality of your work suffers. The frustration will creep into your interactions with co-workers. Eventually, you fail to pay attention to the evolving changes in the field. You fall behind and your skill-sets become obsolete. Instead of being the go-to person in your company, you just become dead weight.

No company wants dead weight.

Companies need employees that are engaged. They reward innovators in their field and those who actively lead improvements to the company as a whole. Unfortunately, it’s hard to become an innovator and leader of something you don’t love.

So what do you do?

You change!

Dig deep and find that inner voice. Evaluate your career choices and make changes. It’s not going to be easy. It may even mean taking a lower position or lower pay in a new career path. Don’t worry about that. It will pay off in the long run.

If you love what you do, success will come naturally.

Portrait of a Klimber | Winston Churchill

Chuchill Photo

Sir Winston Churchill was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Although he never worked for a corporation, he embodied everything that a Klimber should be.

He was born into an aristocratic family, but his family was by no means rich. He was born premature. He had a lisp all his life. He was raised by his nanny and ignored by his parents. In fact, his dad was an asshole who wrote off Winston as a disappointment early in life. He sucked at school. His life was full of failure … over and over again. But he never let life’s impediments stop him from climbing the social and political ladder. He used it to fuel his ambition.

Starting at the bottom of his country’s political ladder, he leveraged his parents connections, worked his ass off, worked the system and did pretty much whatever he could to reach the top at 10 Downing Street (that’s the White House of England).

Winston Churchill’s ascent to the top of the political ladder, overcoming many challenges along the way, offers many lessons that we Korporate Klimbers can learn from. Over the course of his 90 year life, he not only was a master politician, he accumulated a staggering number of achievements.

According to British historian Paul Johnson’s biography on Wiinston Churchill,

  • He spent 55 years as a member of British Parliament
  • He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom for 9 years
  • He took part in 15 battles and was awarded 14 medals
  • He was a prominent figure in the first World War and a dominant one in World War II
  • He was a journalist and war correspondent
  • He was an accomplished historian  and writer, publishing almost 10 million words … more than many professional writers in their lifetime
  • He was a well known and respected artist who painted over 500 canvases
  • He was a Knight of the Order of the Garter, Companion of Honor, Fellow of the Royal Society, a Royal Academician, Elder Brother of the Trinity House, a university Chancellor and a member of the Order of the Merit
  • He hunted big game in Africa (it was cool back then OK..)
  • He had a large and loving family
  • He raised and raced horses
  • He won the Nobel Prize

Simply put, this guy crushed it. Every. Single. Day.

But how?

In his biography, Paul Johnson offers us five lessons on ambition, leadership and the art of climbing from Winston Churchill’s life.

Lesson One: Always aim high. Look ahead and stay focused

Churchill always set very high goals for himself. He then assessed his shortcomings and worked his ass off to overcome the challenges.  As a child, he sucked at school and hated math. But he knew education was important so he overcame his aversion to math to at least get by. He had a speech impediment but he didn’t let it stop him from mastering the English language to become one of the greatest speakers in the 20th century.

His father died at a young age of 45. So he became hell bent on making a name for himself at a young age. And he did this with intense focus.

He sought to be prime minister feeling only he could achieve certain things. In 1940 he aimed not only high but at the highest – to rescue a stricken country in danger of being demoralized, to put it firmly on its feet again, and to carry it to salvation and victory. He did not always meet his elevated targets, but by aiming high he always achieved something worthwhile. – Paul Johnson

Lesson Two: There is no substitute for hard work and persistence


Churchill never backed down from hard work. This is one of the reasons he accomplished so much in his life. He was always doing something.

He worked sixteen hour days and was known for going to sleep at 2 or 3 in the morning. He took jobs that were not ideal if only to get his foot in the door. Then he would excel, get noticed and be promoted.

For example, he wanted to start his career in the military so he applied for the Royal Military College. But he failed the entrance exam … twice. Instead of giving up or even continuing to keep trying, he figured out another way. After failing the exam for infantry, he applied for the cavalry instead because the grade requirements were lower. Then he worked hard to graduate eighth out of a class of 150.

During World War I, as a leader of the British navy, he was blamed for a disastrous failure of Battle of Gallipoli that effectively destroyed his career at the time. He lost his leadership post in the cabinet and had to resign his leadership position in the navy. Instead of giving up, he stayed a member of Parliament waited for his chance.

It finally came when Prime Minster David Lloyd George appointed him to the lowly position of the Minister of Munitions in 1917. He was responsible for making sure that the British troops were well stocked with guns, bullets and weapons to fight the war. It was a position that no one really wanted because the ministry itself was a disorganized, chaotic shitshow. But as soon as he got there, he worked day and night to transform it into an organized, well-oiled machine. He eliminated bureaucratic red-tape and simplified the process so the British soldiers on the ground never ran out of munitions.

Within two years, he was promoted and back in power.

Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential. – Winston Churchill

Lesson Three: Never let failures, mistakes, disasters, accidents, illness, unpopularity, and criticism, get you down


This guy never gave up. No matter what. He failed. He got up and tried again. If that didn’t work, he figured out a different way to attack the problem.

As Johnson points out:

[Churchill’s] power of recuperation, both in physical illness and in psychological responses to abject failure, were astounding… He scrambled to his feet and worked his way back. He had courage … and fortitude. These strengths are inborn but they can also be cultivated, and Churchill worked on them all his life.

Remember how he twice failed to get into the Royal Military Academy. He got what he wanted by figuring out a way to go around this by joining the cavalry. He got his foot in the door, kicked ass and rose to the top.

He wanted to marry women that were way above his league. Two of them rejected his marriage proposal. But he wasn’t deterred. Finally, his third proposal to Clementine Hozier was accepted. They remained faithfully married till the end.

He lost five elections in his life. But he never gave up. He just ran from a different town until he won the next election.

He was kicked out of his leadership position in the navy after the failure of Battle of Gallipoli in WWI where 34 thousand British soldiers died and 78 thousand were wounded. After resigning from his position, he re-enlisted in the Army as a battalion commander. Under his leadership, his battalion became the most active of the British forces by leading 36 assaults into enemy territory in seven short months.

He sums up his philosophy in a speech to students at Harrow School in 1941:

Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force. Never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy

– Winston Churchill

Lesson Four: Don’t waste time or emotional energy on anger, hate or revenge

Hater’s gonna hate …


In life, you need thick skin. Being sensitive about every time someone said or did something mean is bad for your career.

Holding on to anger and grudges is bad for your health. Bad health leads to bad decisions and therefore bad career choices.

There were a lot of people who did not like Churchill. He was hated. He was back stabbed by members of his own party a few times. He was one of the most laughed at political leaders of his time. But he didn’t let anything stick to him for too long. This is why he outlived many of his opponents. He developed a thick skin.

Churchill wasted an extraordinarily small amount of his time [if any] and emotional energy on the meanness of life: recrimination, shifting blame to others, malice, revenge seeking, dirty tricks, spreading rumors, harboring grudges, waging vendettas. Having fought hard, he washed his hands and went on to the next contest. It is one reason for his success. There is nothing more draining and exhausting than hatred… Nothing gave him more pleasure than to replace enmity with friendship.

– Paul Johnson

Look, as you climb the corporate ladder and become more successful, you will inevitably cause resentment in some people and will become a target for others to bring down. Success never comes by being liked by everyone and by being everyone’s friend. But that doesn’t mean that you need to waste your energy on hating those who hate you.

First. It’s not personal. Those people who have a problem with you are driven by their own insecurities. They’re mostly just projecting their own self-hatred and self disappointment onto you. So, there’s nothing you can do to change it anyway.

Second. If you let it get to you, then you’re letting them win. You’re letting them control how much of your energy and time they get to occupy.

Your continued success will be the big ass symbolic middle finger that the haters will see and that my friends, will give you more satisfaction than anything you can do to change their minds.

Plus, by always being nice – even to the people who are mean to you – you can always go back and ask them for help. You never know when you may need them.

Lesson Five: Have a positive attitude and be an optimist

Life is short. If you’re ambitious it’s because you want the better things that life has to offer.

You’re not just working your ass off to benefit some company that’s going to forget all about you as soon as you leave. At the end of the day, the only reason you’re willing to put up with hard work, sweat, tears and a bunch of bullshit is for a better life.

So go ahead an enjoy it.

[Churchill’s] face could light up in the most extraordinarily attractive way as it became suffused with pleasure at an unexpected and welcome event… Joy was a frequent visitor to Churchill’s psyche, banishing boredom, despair, discomfort, and pain. He liked to share his joy, and give joy. It be never be forgotten that Churchill was happy with people. – Paul Johnson


You work hard. You need to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Doing so will bring you happiness and give you a positive attitude.

No one likes a downer.

People are attracted to working with those who display a genuine positive attitude. The more people who are willing to work with you, for you and to follow you, the more successful you’ll become.


19 Hard Truths You Have to Accept to Be Successful


Found on

Before You Respond to that Email, Pause – Harvard Business Review


This article was posted on the Harvard Business Review


Before You Respond to that Email, Pause   Anthony K. Tjan

Someone sends you an email message or a text, and you’re unsure how to respond. It’s about a complex negotiation, or a politically sensitive situation. Or maybe it’s just from a person who unnerves you.

For a moment, you pause. But for most of us, most of the time, that pause doesn’t last long. Instead we react, feeling the need to immediately craft a response. And often we then hit “send” without fully thinking. The result: an awkward or incomplete message that causes the recipient to pause, then react, often starting or continuing a cycle of miscommunication and misunderstanding.

Yes, people today expect and want an instantaneous reply to any message. We often accommodate them because delay feels like a violation of modern-day social norms.

But there are many times when we should not immediately reply. And the truth is, we usually know them when they come. That’s what that initial pause is about. The key is to heed it.

There is a simple two-step method to making the pause work for you. First, buy yourself some time to think. Second, follow the four simple C’s of effective communication that help determine how best to respond in terms of the context, content, channel, and contact.

Buying Time

There are a few practical ways to buy some time when you get a message where your gut tells you not to respond or where you are not sure how to respond.

  • The non-response response – “Got your message.” This is meant to serve as an acknowledgement but really is only filler. It may aggravate someone in the midst of a negotiation or other serious exchange.
  • The expectation-setter – “Got it. Lot on the plate today, I’ll get back to you tomorrow afternoon.” This is often a good middle ground. It provides an immediate response of acknowledgment and resets the timetable.
  • The confident pause – Don’t respond. Really. Just don’t. Pausing for at least 24 hours is a pretty good rule of thumb. Not responding is its own kind of response, which can often work to your advantage.

Once you’ve bought yourself some time, you soak in the information from the message and think of what the best response might be. There are four C’s that have served as a useful checklist for me to use during that pause time before I respond to a difficult message: context, content, contact, and channel.

The Four C’s of Effective Communication

Context – Having the right situational context is key. Who are the relevant parties to the conversation or discussion thread? Are there relationships and inter-dependencies and previous conversations that I’m not aware of? Do I fully understand what is at stake? In the multi-party transactions in which we often get involved in venture capital, sending out a quick response to even a simple query can backfire if the timing is wrong or the information out of date. Sometimes you can even answer a specific question in a technically correct manner, but be practically incorrect because you’ve failed to appreciate the bigger picture.

Content – The message needs to be delivered in clear manner with the right tone and style for the occasion. Having the right content means checking facts and being consistent with past discussion threads. If there is one thing that I have seen kill a negotiation or productive progress in a discussion, it is inconsistency of message, which both confuses others and diminishes your credibility. Get the facts and your message points straight in your head, then focus on delivering them in the clearest, most understandable, most consistent manner possible.

Contact – Are you even the right person to respond? It happens often: we are asked something and fail to realize that we might not be the best person to respond. Consider if someone else might be more knowledgeable or better suited in style to respond, especially in a crisis (where it is usually best to have only a single point of contact). There is a reason why terrorist and hostage negotiations are not conducted over Google Docs. And even in an open and collaborative everyday work culture, there are many times when deferring to someone else is the right answer. Also, consider if the person on the other side who is asking a question or provoking a discussion is the right contact person as well. And always — always! — be wary of “reply all” and judicious with the cc function.

Channel – Just because someone contacts you by email or text does not mean you have to respond by that channel. Email and text lend themselves to misinterpretation and misunderstanding. They are often likelier to prolong or inflame a debate than to resolve it. Sometimes it’s much more effective and efficient just to pick up the phone or meet up in person. Email is great for transmitting factual information — a spreadsheet of a business model, for example, or a summary of a prior discussion. But when there are issues to resolve, talking usually works better.

As the pressure grows to respond quickly, the value of pausing and thinking is growing too. We all should work toward developing better, saner norms of communication amid the explosion of channels available to us. But that will take time and thought to get right. In the interim, we just need to stop being so damned trigger-happy with that send button.