Last Sunday night, I had high hopes for the coming week. As the week wore on, it seemed like every item on my to-do list was getting pushed off from Wednesday to Thursday.

How many more “Checking in” and “Just following up…” email subject lines could I write? How many voice-mails did I leave because no one could pick up their phone when they were already on a Zoom call?

I have become a nudzh.

The Yiddish word “nudzh” (also spelled “noodge”) is a wonderfully descriptive term to describe a nagging or pestering person. It has often been discussed in the Facebook group, A Way With Words. (If you’re a word nerd and not listening to the AWWW podcast, you’re missing something great!)

Turning back to the topic… Again, I have become a nudzh to every client I’m working with — plus several prospects in my pipeline.

How did this happen? Surprisingly, I can answer my own question because I know what this feels like, having worked in-house – continually being harangued by our outside consultants. “Nancy. It’s been two weeks, and you haven’t gotten back to me with the go-ahead.” “Hey, Nance. Did IT approve the changes?”

On my end, I had been trying to ‘get in front’ of the lawyer/practice section leader/CIO/CMO – anyone who could help me move forward with answers, like adjusting the timeline. You know… the timeline the lawyer agreed to is now slipping?

While working in-house, I would suddenly see my calendar marked with back-to-back meetings, through no fault of my own. Even if I listed “block time” on my calendar to prevent my assistant from filling in meetings without my permission, I’d suddenly get called in at the last minute. (I think anyone WFH might be in a better position today.) In fact, I used to joke, “I’m too busy to go to the bathroom. If only I could pay someone to pee for me.”

How – and when to be a nudzh:

  • Know that it’s okay to be a nudzh. Especially if you have responsibility for getting something accomplished, you may have to use some of these firm but friendly tactics:
    • If your email program includes the urgent feature, use it.
    • Send an email and a voice-mail. It seems redundant, but the recipient often can’t get to voice-mail and read an email. Or vice versa.
    • Include the term “ACTION ITEM:inside your email can help focus your recipient’s eyes. (Basically, it’s my version of, ‘here’s just what you need to know.’)
    • If a stronger message is required, try something like “RESPONSE NEEDED” or “NEXT STEPS” in your email subject line.
    • Humor works – but only if you know your audience really, really well.
  • Develop more realistic timelines. Whether you’re in-house or an outside consultant, build in clear language in your communications or statement of work. I often use the “… depending on our mutual availability” when indicating delivery dates. While I’m not a lawyer, this is a friendlier, ‘Plain English’ approach that has worked for me.
  • Set boundaries. You need time to think. Even with working from home, respect the “block time” on your calendar. Whether it’s exercising, listening to music, or getting up from your desk and taking a walk. However, avoid doom scrolling, especially these days.

One more thing: If you are in sales, being a nudzh may be a good strategy. Maybe Samantha McKenna wants to weigh in here?

Written by : Nancy Slome

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