left Xtraordinary Living At Its Best: Return Phone Calls

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

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Return Phone Calls

I've decided to start a new category in this blog - Rants. I'm curious as to what kind of response I will get to these types of posts. If nothing else, I'd love to look back on these a few years from now, and see how I feel about those same things then.

Today I'm focusing on the people who don't return phone calls in a prompt manner. I think that if you have made the effort to contact me, then it is very disrespectful of me to not return your call. My personal benchmark is to return my calls within 24 hrs. as long as I'm not traveling out of the country - in which case I leave a message to such effect on my voice mail. The only exception to this, is when a stranger calls me unsolicited wanting to sell me something that I have not requested.

Why do I do this? Because in my opinion, returning calls in a promptly manner is not only a sign of good manners but it is also GOOD business. My experience is that people really appreciate my efforts to get back to them in a promptly manner. It helps build trust and credibility. And that in turn helps build relationships. And relationships are the cornerstone of my business.

On the other hand, I feel that the opposite is also true. Lack of prompt responsiveness is not only bad manners but disrespectful. It is BAD business, erodes trust and undermines credibility. It also wastes a tremendous amount of time.

You may want to keep this in mind the next time someone leaves you a message. The benefit/damage you may do to your business might be greater than you think. I'd love to hear what you have to say on this matter.


Lilly Weeda said...

I agree with Rick. In my business of financial planning, it's likely that someone's call could literally mean money. I make sure that they understand when they are leaving a message that if they are calling about an investment purchase or sale, they need to let someone know right away - we don't want that to be an issue. But otherwise, I make every effort to return calls within 24 hours as well, hopefully before the end of the day. This means that I sometimes am calling people from my cell phone while on the road or from home at night - but I want them to know they are important to me -whoever it is - because they are! We need connectedness and sometimes that is all someone wants - someone to connect to.
I have a rant though, too:
I have a frustration with people (including myself, here) who take things too personally. Recently, my mother was in the hospital. One of my sister's made a suggestion to a nurse about something that she'd wondered about that could be part of the problem. The nurse very nicely explained what the options were to try to determine if that was indeed an issue for Mom - and also that all indications from a medical viewpoint were that if all the uncomfortable, invasiver tests were done, it's likely not to yield any significant results - or ones we'd be willing to do anything about anyway. The nurse was reasonable and considerate. My sister took it very personally saying that she felt like 'the hospital' doesn't give HER any credit for knowing anything... the fact is that is isn't ABOUT her - it's about what's the best thing for our mom.
I think it's important for us to remember that MOST of the time - it's not about us. When someone is having a bad day and are not paying as much attention to us as we would like - it's not about us...
I try to remember that - sometimes it's easier than other, isn't it?
I'm curious what your thoughts are. Thanks for sharing this blog.

Rick Itzkowich said...


In the book Crucial Conversations, the authors have a section called "Mastering my Sories." In there they talk about how we pass the events that take place in outside of us through our mental "filters." In other words, we tell a story (assign meaning) to these events. The meaning we assing to events triggers our feelings. And our feelings trigger our actions. This is the Thoughts=>Feelings=>Action=>Results model we use in our courses.

We often tell ourselves stories where we are the victims and others are "villains." When we do this, we often end up feeling and reacting like your sister did.

If we don't like the way someone makes us feel, then we need to work on telling a different story. One of the ways we can change our stories is to ask ourselves questions. A very useful question to do this is the following: "Why would a good and decent human being say (or do) that?" This question, forces us to look for alternatives that will take us down a different path than being a victim.