I was straightening my office and found an article I had printed off the Internet, "Karen Stephenson's Quantum Theory of Trust," written by Art Kleiner and published in 2002 by strategy+business. It is a fascinating article about relationships in business–not hierarchical relationships, but the work, social, and networking relationships that affect a company's success.
The article touched on business writing, specifically email, on the last page:
"One easy way to improve the level of trust, anytime and anywhere, is simply to increase the speed with which people respond to communication. When people return our calls or e-mails quickly, it sends a signal that we can rely on them because our connection, however distant, is important enough to claim some of their attention. 'Human beings always keep an internal accounting system of who owes what to whom,' says Steve Haeckel, director of strategic studies at IBM’s Advanced Business Institute, who has collaborated with Professor Stephenson for 10 years on some of the trust-related research she’s done. 'Response time is one indicator of the degree of trustworthiness of the other individual.'"
When I finished reading the article last night around 10 o'clock, I pulled out my laptop and responded to a few emails I had hoped to get to earlier in the week. I want people to trust me. If fast responses build trust, I am going to work on responding faster, even if only with a short message telling the individual when I will respond in detail.
Could you increase trust with customers, coworkers, and people who report to you by responding promptly to their email? Does response time affect your trust in others?