Last week, I wrote about emotional support. I shared my opinions about the importance of providing it even when you’re not asked.  If, on the other hand, you’re able to articulate your own need for emotional support, especially in times of despair, now what?   Are you rewarded with an immediate response, or are you forced to wait in limbo?

We all know people who are “so busy” that we frequently cut them some slack for not returning our calls.  We make excuses for them, or we accept the excuses they provide, and we never call them out on their b-s.  I once worked for an attorney who literally had a policy of waiting until the third voicemail before returning a call.  Can you imagine? And when I first started my mediation practice, I worked with someone who wouldn’t answer my text unless I started it with “911.” Needless to say, I no longer work with that person.

Which brings me to the subject of accessibility. Do you think it’s important? Obviously, I do. I’m sure we all have a short list of who we really need access to, and how often. Yet there are those who absolutely abuse the privilege, either by denying us access, or by blowing up our phones about stuff we really don’t need to know.

When you’re looking at your own accessibility whether in the workplace or outside of work, having an open door policy can be beneficial and it can also be detrimental.  I’d like to make three suggestions on how it can be the former and not the latter.

First, be accountable.  If you schedule a meeting with your staff, or a lunch with your cousin, be there on time (or maybe a bit early).  Show up ready to fully engage, regardless of who called the meeting, and be prepared to listen more than you speak.

Second, be purposeful.  Small talk is okay for a few minutes, and then cut to the chase.  Know what you want to ask as well as what you want to say.

Third, be proactive.  Together, figure out the next steps and who’s going to take which ones.  Reiterate assignments and set deadlines.  Also, if appropriate, schedule an interim status check to see how things are going and if anything needs tweaking.  And if the situation isn’t work-related, you can still be proactive by making plans for your next get-together or phone call.

Bonus:  At the end of the day, your accessibility adds to the value you offer to those around you and, in turn, it contributes to the way in which you value yourself.  

If none of these suggestions apply to your situation, I can tell you in three words how to up your own accessibility game.  Yep, three little words that, when delivered with authenticity, are magical.  If you know what they are, please share your answer by commenting.