Lessons from a Recovering Doormat

Lessons from a Recovering Doormat


“Do You Have Minute?”

I just got a call from someone at a charity I’ve donated to in the past. I was working. Busy. Not happy to be interrupted. Grrr…. She asked, “Do you have a minute.” I wanted to get sarcastic and say “Sure, I’d rather spend time listening to you try to get me to give more money than get my work done.” But I held my tongue and just said, “no.”

How many times have you gotten calls soliciting something or trying to sell you a product or convert you to a different electric company? Often they seem to know when you’ve just started dinner or have your hands full with something. I used to control my annoyance and listen to their pitches but seethe inside because my time was wasted or my flow with writing was interrupted.

No more! When I was a DoorMat I had to please everyone, including strangers who interrupt me with phone calls. Now I know I’m not obligated to be an ear to listen to pitches I’m not interested in. I used to believe I had to be nice, polite, and it was impolite to hang up quick. It didn’t seem nice to do that! I hear many people complain that they try to be polite but it drives them crazy to have to listen to someone they have no interest in. After leaving DoorMatville, I experienced an epiphany: We don’t have to listen!

Now I see the light and believe it’s not polite to call me and disturb whatever I’m doing. I’m not nasty to anyone. I just have a different attitude. Nice and polite doesn’t mean having to listen to a pitch that doesn’t interest you. It also doesn’t mean staying on the phone longer than you’d like. Nor does polite mean you have to justify yourself to the person who calls about why you’re not interested in making a purchase or donation or changing your phone service, etc. Expecting you to do so is not polite!

We’re not obligated to speak to people who call when we didn’t invite them to. Some people just hang up. That’s rude. And since I am still a nice person, I’ll say something first. For me, “Do you have a minute?” is a joke. What they pitch will take more than a minute. And when they call in the middle of a work day, I have no minutes to spare. In the past I’d have explained I was too busy to talk in answer to that question. But since I don’t know the person and will donate when I choose, not because they call, I just said, “no.”

As soon as I hear that the person who called is trying to sell me something or solicit business I just say “I’m not interested.” I’ll even interrupt them to say that. Why waste time listening more than necessary? If they continue, I politely say, “I’m going to hang up now” and hang up. Time is valuable and it’s unnecessary to give yours away. If you like talking to strangers, do so. But if you’re like me those calls are annoying and can be stopped by politely saying you’re not interested. Period. That’s being nice to you!
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