Accountability is one of those traits that when you find it in an individual or an organization, you feel confident, taken care of, and at ease. When accountability is missing, you feel worried, preoccupied, and uncertain. You may also feel discounted.

The world has gotten dramatically smaller over the past few years, in large part due to the exponential growth of the Internet. You may purchase many of your goods from a supplier who is physically located thousands of miles from you. One result of the increasing distance between customer and supplier is that relationships are not built between people; a transaction is often fully consummated without even so much as a conversation taking place. When customer service is needed, you will most likely speak to someone with whom you have never spoken with before.

Given the mass “call center” approach adopted by many companies, you will probably never speak to that same person again, either, even though you may have several occasions on which to call the company again.

Email, while a handy means of communicating on an inexpensive, 24-hour-a-day basis, can also lessen accountability. Why? When you engage in a conversation with someone, there is two-way dialogue. You will, in some way, be accountable for what you say in that you must listen to the other person’s response. With email, the arena is wide open for misunderstandings because the opportunity for clarification through active discussion is lost. Email also allows for more aggressive communication, because there is a “safety barrier” of time and space. There is also the opportunity for anonymity, which truly takes away accountability.

What does it mean to be accountable?

  • You can be counted on.
  • You take responsibility for what’s on your plate and for your actions.
  • You communicate in a timely and true fashion.
  • You follow through.

In your personal relationships, being accountable may mean being on time, clearing up misunderstandings when they occur, and doing what you say you’re going to do. It means taking responsibility for what you say regarding the other person. A good rule is to at all times say only those things that you would if the other person were actually there.

A coach can help you be more accountable, both to yourself and to others. By getting clear on what your personal standards are, you will meet those standards more consistently. By delineating your boundaries, you can support individuals and also companies with whom you do business to be more accountable to you. Then you can have more of those confident, taken care of, and at ease feelings.

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Making Time to Play

Congratulations to Michael Thunder, who won the pair of tickets to the Snowdown Follies!

This production is a once-a-year tremendous amount of work, but also a tremendous amount of fun. Though I find that other commitments, both work and social, move more slowly during January because of my involvement with the Snowdown winter festival, it also reminds me how important playtime is. It reminds me not to take myself too seriously.

What have you done lately just for the unabashed amusement of it? Have you let yourself play, be silly, or spoof? Commit to doing something you would normally consider frivolous, and notice how it lightens your load. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with yourself. Have fun.

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