“It is no secret that people lead busy lives and they cannot always remember to do all the things they want or need to do.” -Wanda Baader
The act of making a request is only one step in the process of getting a meaningful response.
I define following up as the art of 1) recognizing that no one cares about the fulfillment of your requests more than you 2) refusing to stake your goals primarily on other people’s ability to memorize, care about, and focus on what’s important to you 3) taking personal responsibility for getting the answers and results you need from others and 4) developing a system of communication for reminding others about your needs without being offensive and unprofessional.
I spent most of my life being ignored and frustrated by my many unfulfilled requests. My frustrations were compounded by the fact that I was always very good at making my requests clear. Yet, no one ever seemed to follow through on the tasks I needed them to perform. I quickly developed a habit of saying things like “I already asked, but never got a response” or “I emailed them, but never received a reply” or “They never called me back.”
Here’s a simple lesson I’ve learned from my frequent disappointments:
Asking for what you want is overrated. The power of a request is not in the asking, it’s in the following up.
A question is merely an expression of something you’re curious about. An answer is a reward for sticking with a question until its resolved.
An answer isn’t a gift that someone gives you; it’s a prize that you have to go out and get.
Success requires work. Getting the information, cooperation, and feedback that you need from others in order to be successful is a part of that work.
Ask, ask again, and keep asking not just until you’re heard, but until you’re answered.
If you want others to follow through, hold yourself accountable to following up.
If you’d like to follow up on the importance of following up, here are some resources you may find useful: