This post is part of our Monthly-ish Tips series.

The celebration of last week’s 300th Weekly-ish Tip continues. Here’s a recap of seven “fan favorites” over the years, determined by number of views and shares and other social media stuff that I’m glad I have others to help me understand.

Scan through the list and see which one(s) might be especially helpful for you right now:

  • Are you making the most of your email auto-replies? (April 2015) I’ve reprised this one a few times, with variations, since I first wrote about this way to stay in touch even when you’re out of touch for almost a decade ago. I still believe an out-of-office message is one of the simplest and most distinctive ways you can personalize your interactions. And I’m no longer surprised at the results people report when they dare to get a little creative—like immediate responses from their otherwise non-responsive clients. The August 2019 version of this tip includes a variety of suggestions for how to use auto-replies effectively, plus there’s a May 2020 post with a special COVID-inspired version to use when you’re not actually out, just … outdone by circumstances.
  • The case for communicating even when you have nothing to say (November 2017). This tip was a personal rant involving a missing washer and dryer, from which I drew some key trust-building lessons. Short version: My request for status updates in the face of an issue went unacknowledged because the vendor “didn’t want to communicate until I had a plan.” This makes sense on some level. Dedicated problem-solvers hate repeatedly communicating that they still don’t have a good answer. But dedicated trust-builders know that something different is called for, because the solutions themselves aren’t the only way you add value. Find out more about what that “something different” is here.
  • Six words about listening you’ll never want to forget (July 2018). In preparation for speaking at a conference, I happened upon a six-word quote that perfectly articulated the essence of what we’ve been sharing—and practicing—for years about the skill of listening. It’s the antithesis of what most of us routinely do, which is listening to bide time until it’s our turn to talk, listening to confirm a point of view, listening for the purpose of figuring out how best to get others to agree, listening to change them. There’s a much more powerful alternative. (BTW, it turns out the anonymous wise person to whom the quote was attributed is U.S. actor Alan Alda.)
  • Do’s and don’ts with client reach-outs (January 2019). On the heels of an onslaught of holiday messaging (emails, cards, etc.), I captured some important lessons to make your client communications stand out—specifically, three DON’T’S and four DO’S. It’s never too early or too late to plan the ways you’ll take a more distinctive approach throughout the year.
  • How saying “no” can transform a relationship (September 2019). Here I re-tell a story that was first captured in The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook about a client who was understandably angry when we discovered a disconnect in expectations—the kind that couldn’t be ameliorated with a creative alternative or a little extra time or money. An issue of confidentiality was at stake and I had the joy of telling the client as respectfully as I could that we would regretfully abort the project—which was well underway and had been paid for in advance—rather than breach confidences we had promised. My assessment of the project as a whole at completion was “moderately successful,” but my assessment of the relationship at the project’s end was “pretty big failure.” That is, until I got an unexpected call six months later. Find out what the client had to say.
  • How to quickly build trust in a meeting with just one word (March 2020). Trust is often built with small gestures, and this tip offers a simple trust-building meeting practice that works quickly with groups as small as two and as big as forty—whether you’re virtual or in-person or some combo. I’ve been using it for more than a decade. I include recommended wording along with seven specific suggestions for making the most of it.
  • A compelling way to reach new levels of relationship mastery (July 2020). I was pleased to see a lot of traction for my series of posts about striving for more conscious relationships by working on our own racial literacy. This last one in the series delves into some basics on implicit bias, a critical topic because it’s human—not wrong or immoral or White—to have biases. The question isn’t do you have blind spots; the questions are (1) what can you do to increase your awareness of them, and (2) how committed are you to the practice required to show up in a more meaningful and masterful way? This tip offers specific suggestions to advance on both fronts.

If none of these are hitting a chord today, you can always cruise the Weekly-ish Tips archive.

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Andrea Howe

As the founder of The Get Real Project, I am the steward of our vision and our service offerings, as well as a workshop leader and keynote speaker. Above all else, I am an entrepreneur on a mission: to kick conventional business wisdom to the curb and transform how people work together as a result. I am also the co-author, with Charles H. Green, of The Trusted Advisor Fieldbook (Wiley, 2012).