Common Courtesy

A woman contacted me on the premise of telling me she read some of my articles posted on a leadership blog I write for and wanted to discuss them.  So she calls me and the very first thing out of her mouth is, “Do you use assessments in your business?”  As I began responding to her question she rambled on and on about the assessments she uses in her consulting business and that I should use them too… Despite my many attempts, she would not let me talk, and since I had no interest in the assessments she uses, I hung up! (I very rarely hang up on people and every time I’ve ever hung up on somebody, I feel horrible about it.) 

This woman displayed no common courtesy whatsoever.  As I was feeling horrible for hanging up on her, these thoughts were going through my head: She was dishonest on why she really wanted to talk with me.  If she knew anything about me she would know I don’t call my coaching practice a business. If she wanted to sell me assessments, she should have told me that up-front.  When I call somebody I usually say, “hello, is this still a good time to talk?”  At the very least, I ask, “how are you?”  And when I ask a question, I actually listen to the answer.  And then….

…She called me back and as soon as I picked up the phone said, “We must have been disconnected, where did we leave off?” After a slight pause, she said, “Oh right, I was talking about all of my assessments. So what do you think?”  I took a deep breath and politely told her I already have a pool of assessments I use and that I’m very happy with them.  She lit into me telling me I wasted her time.  At this point, I was very firm with her and said, “Now just wait a minute!  YOU wasted my time!  You told me you wanted to discuss MY articles and that is clearly not why you called.  When you asked me if I use assessments YOU never let me answer the question and you wouldn’t let me speak.  Had you let me answer your question, you would have known I was not interested in what you are selling.”  She had a few choice words and hung up!  And I just laughed – what else can you do?

I believe there is a lesson in every situation and sometimes the lesson is just a simple reminder.  Here’s what I take from this phone call:

  • Be honest about why you want to have a conversation with somebody
  • Small talk is courteous (How are you, is this a good time talk, etc…)
  • When you ask a question, stop talking and listen for the answer
  • If you don’t want an answer to your question — don’t ask your question
  • Don’t let somebody else prompt you to behave rudely – rise above it

May your day be filled with common courtesy!

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4 Responses to Common Courtesy

  1. Pam Wyess says:

    Amazing. Some people are just amazing. *sigh*

  2. Michelle Chesney says:

    It sounds to me that SHE is in desperate need of an “assessment” and perhaps a great candidate to be a ‘client’ of yours.

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