Rules of Engagement

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Published: December 2, 2014 3:13:31 AM

Phone call, SMS, IM, email, in that order—the rules for communicating based on how urgent your query is

These days, one is inundated with emails, instant messaging or SMSs. Which one needs to be attended to first? How do you separate the distractions from the urgent tasks? There’s a way out of this, according to entrepreneur Cyrus Stoller. He has set up rules for communicating with him, based on how urgently you need him to respond. On his blog, which has gone viral, Stoller has laid down his rules for communicating with him based on the urgency of response required.

He says if you need a response in 30 minutes, you should call him. “If you don’t feel comfortable interrupting what I’m doing to make a request to me directly then it probably isn’t that urgent and can wait a little while.” For a reaction in two hours, you should text him. “This gives me time to wind down what I’m doing and call you back.” If a response is required sometime that day, you should IM him. “Instant message works well for slightly more asynchronous communication. You’re interested in getting a short response promptly, but it doesn’t need to be right away.

This is less disruptive than calling or texting.” Anything that can wait a day or later should be emailed. “Most people I know feel like they have too many emails to deal with. Think twice about whether email is the right way to communicate your information.” It’s a handy piece of advice for a new, broad understanding of how we should all reach others when we need responses within a certain amount of time.

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