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46 DESIGN007 MAGAZINE I JULY 2019 ships the shirts. Companies like this deal with scores of messages about problems every day, and I was probably just another one of those in a large customer complaint pile. And that's the focal point of this whole story. Even though the shirt was delivered as promised, the thing about this transaction that I am going to remember the most is that they couldn't get my name right. It's not their prod- uct, their price, or their service, but instead, it will be calling me by the wrong name that will stay in my memory. You may be think- ing at this moment that I'm making a moun- tain out of a molehill, and I would agree, but there's more here to my line of thinking than a $20 shirt. What if instead of a shirt I was waiting for an updated board outline from my mechani- cal design department? And what if instead of calling me by the wrong name, they neglected to notify me that the new data was ready to be worked with? When it comes to getting the PCB design done correctly and out the door on time, how we work with and support those around us becomes much more important than a wrong name on a T-shirt order. All of us are in the business of customer sup- port no matter what we do. Even if you aren't actively operating a customer support line or answering emails, someone is still depend- ing on you for their success. Do you have de- liverables to finish on time so that someone else can do their job? Do you have responsi- bilities to fulfill so that your department func- tions smoothly? Are you part of a team that provides a product or service for your compa- ny? If so, you're in customer support. Whatev- er it is that we do, we are usually working with others, and their success depends on how well we do our own jobs. Although we may not be providing support in the traditional sense of customer support, we are still providing sup- port—even if the customer is a co-worker sit- ting right next to us. Not communicating clearly, following through, or even using the wrong name can send a very subtle message to a co-worker that we don't place too much value on them. This perception of decreased value can then tend to reduce the amount of trust that our co-work- ers have in us, and on it goes, becoming worse and worse. Once this cycle starts, interdepart- mental communication will break down, lead- ing to even more problems. The breakdown of value and trust in our work relationships is like adding resistance to a circuit; both communi- cation and the flow of energy will be choked off. I'm not saying that just because we forget someone's name that the company is doomed to failure, but I believe that for success, we should all look for better ways to support each other in our efforts. Here are four ideas to provide better sup- port, build trust, and communicate with our co-workers that they do have value and are im- portant to us. 1. Listen Our co-workers and the people around us all have great ideas, some of which might be vital- ly important to the success of the project that we are working on. Yet it is so easy to get fixed on what we want to say that we don't listen to what these other ideas are. Try focusing your complete attention on your co-worker, and lis- ten all the way through before responding. 2. Reply Promptly When you receive a message—whether it is a voicemail, email, chat, or text—respond back as soon as you can. Not responding quickly to a message sends a very clear signal to the send- er that their attempt to reach out wasn't impor- tant to you. Now, here's the trick; it's okay if your answer is "no," or "let me get back to you when I know more." The important thing is to get back to them with some kind of response so that they know you aren't ignoring them. 3. Be Encouraging Our society today is very used to the sharp and biting comments that are prevalent on so- cial media. People are becoming so used to be- ing knocked down for their ideas that in re- turn, they are starting to keep their ideas bot- tled up. Start encouraging your co-workers as a way to reverse this trend. You don't want to go overboard and sound phony, but finding some-

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