It has happened yet again: “ I will be in touch for sure by the end of next week.”

So what do you think happened? Yup, no call. Doesn’t even really matter what it was about, all I remember is that they didn’t call.

How many times do you have to drop the ball  to erode your reputation? Do you care? It seems many people really don’t care how many times they promise to do something and simply don’t. Of course there are plenty of good excuses; some are actually legitimate, such as my friend not showing to a play because he had a ‘small heart attack’.

No One Likes to Say No

The vast majority of times, though, there is no excuse. The project didn’t get greenlighted, the funding was rescinded, the other guy’s proposal was better or they liked the other candidate better.  All of those are perfectly reasonable reasons to not have the opportunity to make the call that says ‘yes’.

No one likes to let anyone down and make the ‘no go’ phone call. Whether it is personal or business, saying yes is so much more fun.  But you can’t say yes to everything, despite how you may want to. Is the fear of having to disappoint somebody greater than your self respect?

Maybe It’s Someone You Don’t Think You Will See Again

It is way easier to blow off someone you don’t really know or don’t believe you will run into again. There maybe a twinge or two of guilt when you dodge their follow up call, they’ll get over it. Hopefully they will get the message after a week or two and simply go away. Phew, thank goodness, didn’t have to deal with that one.

Yes, But We Do Remember

I have had to make those calls and no doubt, they are painful. Turning down a sincere application or petition hurts me as well. And I have heard ‘no’ plenty of times, so many they generally fade into a vague memory.  I can accept no, but it is harder to accept just being ignored. Those that bothered to send a nice little email or call when they thought there was a good chance I would not pick up are fine. I get it.

They are providing some basic human courtesy and respect. I would rather be told no than having my chain yanked. How long is too long to wait for your return call that is never going to come?

There is special place in hell for those that simply don’t bother.

What is shocking is how frequently this happens in a professional setting. Whether it is a request for a quote for a product or service, an application to join a group, submitting a quote to a prospect, it is shocking (to me) how many of these efforts float into oblivion. No acknowledgement or recognition of the effort someone has made towards that firm or person? I am not talking about cold calling prospects, but business contacts between, supposedly, professionals.

Whether it is proposals or people as candidates, the landscape seems equally dismal. No answer, follow up or reply may shield you from a moment’s discomfort at the cost at the other person, waiting for you.

When you say a week, and it rolls into the next week, and through that week, yeah, we get it, you’re not interested. Have some integrity, have some courage, be as good as your word, make the call you said you were going to make.

  • If you don’t plan to call back, say so up front.
  • If you are going to review applications and only call back the ones you are interested in, say so up front.
  • If you are going to be late and not have an answer by your deadline, let them know.
  • If you are going to call back one way or the other, do so.
  • Don’t say you will call and don’t.

Maybe it seems as a small thing, but it is a profound small thing: it’s your word, your reputation.

You said you were going to do something, do it. If you can’t do something as small as return a call, how much confidence can we have in you delivering the bigger things?

Respect yourself, those you work with and for even if you don’t know them yet. This is about you, not them. Your reputation is worth that, isn’t it?

Thanks for letting me get this off my chest, now I have to go make some phone calls.

image credit: https://sophiesticatedmamadotcom.files.wordpress.com/2015/11/your-word.jpg
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