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“Let Your Answering Machine Help You Say YES To You”
03/01/13

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I’m not an advocate of not returning calls from family members, friends and business partners.  However, I’ve been noticing how, even after working on myself to make my own work my first priority whenever possible, I succumb to the ringing of my phone.   I can sabotage my own projects by making everyone else’s time more valuable than mine.

When I was a little girl we had telephones but answering machines hadn’t yet been invented. If you’re younger than I and I’m sure most of you are, try to imagine a world in which if you miss a phone call you may never again be able speak to the person whose call you missed.  Plus – you wouldn’t even know whose call you did miss. Very often we’d wait at home in order to catch an important phone call. I would get upset when my folks (or whoever the party I needed to reach was) didn’t answer the phone. What to do?! I’d panic.

I was and am thankful for the person who developed the answering machine. Life became faster. We didn’t have to wait at home to connect with someone or be sure they had the number for the person we were visiting. If we were outside we needed to know where the public phone booths were. Now, we don’t only have home answering machines, we take our communication tools with us!

Your probably saying, “I know. I know. So?” I’m bringing this up because, as I said in my first paragraph, we can – at least I can – become nervous about not answering every communication that comes in, the moment it comes in. In the past decade or so I know many people whose day is spent on the phone. If it’s their job to take calls that come in for their employer, call people for their employer and leave messages when necessary, that’s the equivalent of their saying YES to themselves.  It’s what they need to do to fulfill the requirements of their employment.  However,  if a person feels they must answer every phone call that comes in before they’ve even looked at their own daily list of tasks that will take them further in the direction of accomplishing the goals they want to achieve, they’re in “people pleasing” mode.

Is it wonderful to please people? Of course it is. However, if you say YES to your daily goals first and then answer other’s needs you’ll be able to help the others more in the long run because you’ll have achieved the position you’ve been aiming for.

If the call that’s coming in is someone who is answering a call you made to them or is a person you know can help you achieve a daily or long run goal, then that’s a call you’ll answer right away. The others can be called back when you’ve got your tasks completed.

In a Here Women Talk column that was posted on April 15, 2012 I mentioned a line in my Franklin Covey planner that read, “Never answer emails in the morning.” Not answering a call that doesn’t pertain to your needs before tending to your needs is the same thing. If the person calling is a family member, you would want to answer them quickly to check if they’re physically okay. If they really need help, that would change your daily “to do” list. If, however, they were calling to “schmooze”, it’s perfectly acceptable to give them a quick phone kiss and tell them you’ll call them back as soon as you’ve gotten your work (or whatever is on YOUR list) done.

Believe me, I still have to work on not picking up the phone to answer every phone call that comes in. They’ll leave a message if they want me and I can call them back as soon as I can – AND – guess what I’m finding and I bet you’ll find too? They’ll be more likely to say YES to YOU!!!


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