There’s this little thing I used to find troubling during the many meetings my team would have with clients. It was almost as if the air would get sucked out of the room and an eerie silence would fill its place.

We’d all be patiently waiting for someone to move on to the next topic, but instead would just continue sitting there with no hope of recovery. You wait for something to happen.

Anything. But it doesn’t.

I like to think of myself as an extrovert. I’m not accustomed to long pauses. I err on the empathetic side and tend to concern myself with wanting the best experience for all parties involved.

I’d like to say that awkward pauses only happen in real-time exchanges with other humans, but this carries over to digital communications, as well. Emails go unanswered and the conversation stalls.

Perhaps there’s something rewarding about the old school method of literally speaking with your clients to solve problems.

Have you tried actually speaking to your clients?

On average, email takes up roughly 23 percent of an employees workday. For every email they receive, it takes them about 16 minutes to refocus after receiving an email. That’s while already receiving an average of 304 weekly business emails.

If I had a nickel for every email I sent out, I’d probably be able to pay off my student loans pretty quickly—and I’m sure you could too.

Inboxes fill up so rapidly, and people become overrun by that little inbox number that keeps increasing minute by minute. To combat that, I thought, why not call people to eliminate back and forth and get to the point faster?

I’ve tested this approach lately, as my inbox seems to grow larger with each passing moment.

Your phone call doesn’t have to last more than a few minutes.

Talk about that new office puppy or even how much you’ve been thinking about getting one yourself from a local rescue. Then, you can cleverly segue into discussing the team’s collective feedback on the latest project you/they sent over.

See what happened right there? Two things were accomplished.

1) Created a bond with your client that you can build on in the future. By discussing something more personal, positive and (hopefully) interesting, you’ve opened the floodgates to openly share information and construct a more genuine partnership.

2) Just reduced the amount of time it usually takes to get a little bit of much-needed feedback you’d otherwise be stuck waiting on. This works well when you’re trying to bond with a new client, as well.

Get to Know Your Clients

Before you dive into the data on their market share, or how much investment is a good investment take the time to learn a little about them first. You’ll find that this helps increase productivity by helping to build trust. You can simultaneously show you actually-give-a damn while also getting stuff done.

You don’t have to go out of your way to align yourself with your clients, either. Use every interaction as an opportunity to get to know them.

You might be spending a little more time with them than you thought you would before or after a meeting. Offer to give them rides or meet them earlier than expected for a little extra bonding time.

Don’t spend every waking moment focused on work, for both of your sakes. It’s incredible how much I’ve learned about my clients recently—many things I might never have known otherwise—by just spending a little extra time with them.

It gave me a deeper understanding of their working style and helped me to appreciate their input so much more.