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Aug 06

What Is Prompt?

Posted by: Steve Marr

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Words like prompt, soon, shortly, or quickly have different meanings to different people. When using words that require action by a certain time, you need to be clear and specific.  Follow Solomon’s advice who said, “Through presumption comes nothing but strife.” (Proverbs 13:10, NASB)


One person I worked with thought that depositing checks within a week was prompt. I corrected the perspective with the standard that all checks must be deposited and posted no later than the next business day.

I called first thing one morning to follow up on an order that was late. The clerk promised me she would get back to me soon. I called back the next day around noon to follow up. Again, she responded, “I’ll get back to you soon.” I asked what time frame she meant by soon.  She told me, “In a couple of days.” This did not fit my definition of soon on a late order follow up.

Rather than get trapped in arguments over the correct meaning of prompt or soon, I prefer to state a clear deadline for the completion of a task. Please call the customer back today.  Please have the report by 2:00 pm. If you cannot ship the order today, please let me know.

Eliminate the possibility of presumption and your business will run smoother.

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