The difference between being responsive and being too available

March 10, 2008 by Jared Goralnick

Waiting In my last article, I talked about how we shouldn’t make others feel that their time is less important than ours.

Being perceived as being in high demand may help to command respect, but you can accomplish that without feigning busyness or sacrificing those you care about.

This post is generally in response to Skellie of (a great site!), who commented:

If others perceive you as being in high demand, as having a full schedule and generally having a lot of work, your perceived value/talent goes up. Clients want you more. Clients want to pay you more. It’s a social proof thing — if everyone wants you, you must be good. Freelancers who never seem busy, who make themselves available all the time, tend to get treated like they’re not busy for a reason…. [M]anufacturing some of that busyness can be good for business!

I completely agree–the key is to recognize the difference between being responsive and being too available. I personally respond to every email/call I receive, but I won’t do it right away. Most problems don’t need to be solved that quickly, and most projects are not due today. Clients and coworkers may make us feel that way, but they ultimately will respect a consistent response within a reasonable amount of time. In other words, I try to be responsive but not readily available.

Responding right away may come off as eager. Taking a few hours (or even a business day) is still good customer service. I even take it to the next step–if I find myself responding quickly to an email I’ll often delay it being sent out (in Outlook). Especially with newer contacts. And, much more importantly, there are many benefits to delaying email/phone activities so you can batch them.

The same can be said for planning meetings or people walking into your office–one should still apply the etiquette I mentioned in the last post, but schedule with them for later. For people who are more abusive of my time I’ll schedule them before other commitments, further out in advance, and try to get paid by the hour.

Ultimately one ought to make people feel that they have time for them…but out of respect, not out of a need for business. One shouldn’t wait too long to respond to things, but they also shouldn’t be too available. It’s a tough balancing act, but a worthwhile one for both commanding respect and treating people right.

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10 Responses to “The difference between being responsive and being too available”

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  1. Skellie

    Thanks for the thoughts, Jared. Looks like we are on the same page here! :)

  2. Brick Andrews

    It’s a lot like dating: If you call a woman too soon after getting her number, you appear too eager. If you put it off too long, you are not really interested in them (e.g. you don’t value them and it shows).

    By showing you value yourself and your own time first, as long as you don’t put people off too long, you actually demonstrate that you value them and their time as well when you do spend time with/on them. I suppose it is all about confidence – while we all like confident people, it is not too far from there to phoniness or arrogance depending on which way you go.

  3. Jared Goralnick

    Brick, that’s an apt way of putting it! Thank you for the analogy :-)

  4. Anthony Mendez

    Perceived value and availability are two I still struggle to balance. Establishing my name versus being just another VO talent, helps. Great series of articles, Jared. Thanks!

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