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How to communicate with people and not waste their time

One of my pet peeves is how people communicate with each other. It seems like everyone is too busy to explain what they need in a 30 second voicemail or take a couple minutes to type up a detailed email.

I check almost all of my email on my phone. If it is too long, I will scan it and see if there is anything that catches my eye. If not it goes into the pending folder and processed when I have time to read it.

If you call me and leave a message saying “Call me back”, I will think it is nothing important. If I get a really crappy email that I need to go back and forth with you over a 5 email thread just to figure out what you want, I’ll be pissed you are wasting both of out time. SAY WHAT YOU WANT!!!

That being said, here are a few tips to save both yourself and the recipient’s time.

I have never been in the military, but there is a way of communication I hear they use when communicating. Its anagram is BLUF, Bottom Line Up Front. In a nutshell it means, tell me what you want in the beginning, then explain in detail.

I really like this method. It lets the recipient decide if they are interested. If they are, they can continue listening or reading. If not, they can move along without feeling like you wasted their time.

Over the phone

People have stuff to do. If you want to be placed in any kind of priority position to be called back, leave a message with what you need. Don’t be long winded, say your name, your number, what you are calling for and then your name and number again.


I like getting a text message over a voicemail. It forces the person calling me to be concise and to the point. Sure we can go back and forth with a few messages, but if it needs to be explained in more depth, call or email the person the details.


People get a lot of email these days. Don’t waste their time by sending them a message that doesn’t clearly convey what you want. Email is a time suck already. Sending a few words that does not say what you need will move you down on the priority list.

Send an easy to read email that clearly says what you need. Try to keep it short and to the point. If you need to go into detail, remember BLUF. Say what you want first, then add the details why.


What ways do you communicate with people efficiently?


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