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!