When the beleaguered Apollo 13 capsule fell through earth’s atmosphere on April 17, 1970, the re-entry communication blackout lasted about six minutes. Because of the life-threatening situation, suspense was more intense, and because the capsule entered at a shallower angle, the blackout lasted one minute, twenty-seven seconds longer than expected. 

In the Academy award-winning movie, Tom Hanks says, “Odyssey, it’s good to see you,” and everyone cheers and/or cries for several minutes, especially mission control in Houston and the astronauts’ families. In real life, suspense continued until the capsule safely splashed down near Samoa.

Have you ever felt relief and excitement to learn that your project was still alive? Have you made a commitment to protect your teammates from communication suspense? Set your standard. Can you reply within 24 hours? If you don’t have the answer, you can say, “Thanks. I got it. I will start that next Wednesday” or “I need to research. I will get back to you by the 20th.” And then put it on your calendar to beat your deadline.

This is great for your relationships, and it accelerates your projects when each communication volley occurs as rapidly as a game of ping-pong or hot potato. 

Returning the ball back to your teammates’ court quickly is easy; you can control that. Training teammates to do the same can be more challenging. You might need to follow-up and request specific response dates. How do you handle that?