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More Fight The Flab!

More Fight The Flab!

How To Lose the Useless Items that Weigh Down Your Day (Part 2)

I promised that this second installment would deal with cellphone calls. Cellphones are useful, but they can also be extremely distracting. You don’t want to stop genuinely useful calls reaching you. You do want to exclude calls that will waste your time.

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It’s important to bear this central principle in mind: accept what you cannot change (your boss calling you, for example), but never do anything that will make the problem worse. That means three things:

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  • Filtering as many calls as possible, so you get to choose which ones you answer immediately.
  • Working to “train” likely callers to leave messages. This means always calling back. No one will leave a message they think you’ll simply ignore. It also helps to include something in your answering message to let them know when your return call will come. If you make a practice of returning all calls before the end of the business day, say so.
  • Trying not to waste time when you either take a call or return one from earlier. Be prepared before you call and stick to the topic.

The single most important way to save time with cellphones is to organize to receive calls on your schedule as much as possible. When people call you, they expect an immediate response, so you have to try to prevent them reaching you directly whenever you can.

  • Filter all calls, exactly as you should with any other telephone. Because a cellphone suggests urgency by its nature, even people who rigorously filter their land-line calls will answer anyone who calls their cellphone. This is a bad mistake. It’s just another phone, people. Treat it as such.
  • Keep your cellphone switched off as much as possible, sending calls to that answering service. Check it regularly (always on your schedule) and prioritize returning calls in the same way as e-mails.
  • If the phone is on, try to get a service that includes Caller ID. Look to see who’s calling and don’t answer if you don’t have to. If you’re anxious about what the message might be, check with the answering service immediately. If it isn’t urgent (and at least 95% won’t be), leave it alone and get on with what you are doing.
  • If you have to answer, listen carefully to the request and decide if it’s urgent enough to interrupt what you’re doing. If it isn’t, say you’re tied up right now and will get back to the caller later. You can give a time, if you like. “I’m tied up now, but I’ll call you back around 2:30 p.m.”
  • If the caller says it will only take a moment, don’t give in. Repeat that you’re busy and will call back. Never give in to someone else’s impatience without an overwhelming reason.
  • Never give your cellphone number on your main phone answering message, even if you say it’s for emergencies only. Make sure you restrict knowledge of your cellphone number as much as you can, preferably just to those people who might genuinely need to have it for an emergency, and don’t give it to anyone else. Make them wait.

It’s going to feel hard at first. People will complain. They’re used to the immediate gratification of getting you to stop what you’re doing to attend to their needs. But, in time, they’ll get the message. Remember that 95% or more of what they want can wait, with no harm done.

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One final point. If you want people to take your attempts to deal professionally with cellphone communication, always practice what you preach. Don’t interrupt others unless it’s essential. Leave clear, helpful messages. And don’t use your business cellphone for the subject that fills most of our airwaves: gossip.

P.S. Our survey over on Slow Leadership is still open. Please give us your thoughts, if you haven’t done so already. Here’s the link. If we can get a large enough sample, we’ll be able to persuade the wider media to take notice of the movement to make work more civilized. Thanks.

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Adrian Savage is an Englishman and a retired business executive who lives in Tucson, Arizona. You can read his serious thoughts most days at Slow Leadership, the site for anyone who wants to bring back the taste, zest and satisfaction to leadership; and his crazier ones at The Coyote Within.

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Last Updated on January 18, 2019

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

7 Ways To Deal With Negative People

Some people will have a rain cloud hanging over them, no matter what the weather is outside. Their negative attitude is toxic to your own moods, and you probably feel like there is little you can do about it.

But that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

If you want to effectively deal with negative people and be a champion of positivity, then your best route is to take definite action through some of the steps below.

1. Limit the time you spend with them.

First, let’s get this out of the way. You can be more positive than a cartoon sponge, but even your enthusiasm has a chance of being afflicted by the constant negativity of a friend.

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In fact, negativity has been proven to damage your health physically, making you vulnerable to high levels of stress and even cardiac disease. There’s no reason to get hurt because of someone else’s bad mood.

Though this may be a little tricky depending on your situation, working to spend slightly less time around negative people will keep your own spirits from slipping as well.

2. Speak up for yourself.

Don’t just absorb the comments that you are being bombarded with, especially if they are about you. It’s wise to be quick to listen and slow to speak, but being too quiet can give the person the impression that you are accepting what’s being said.

3. Don’t pretend that their behavior is “OK.”

This is an easy trap to fall into. Point out to the person that their constant negativity isn’t a good thing. We don’t want to do this because it’s far easier to let someone sit in their woes, and we’d rather just stay out of it.

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But if you want the best for this person, avoid giving the false impression that their negativity is normal.

4. Don’t make their problems your problems.

Though I consider empathy a gift, it can be a dangerous thing. When we hear the complaints of a friend or family member, we typically start to take on their burdens with them.

This is a bad habit to get into, especially if this is a person who is almost exclusively negative. These types of people are prone to embellishing and altering a story in order to gain sympathy.

Why else would they be sharing this with you?

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5. Change the subject.

When you suspect that a conversation is starting to take a turn for the negative, be a champion of positivity by changing the subject. Of course, you have to do this without ignoring what the other person said.

Acknowledge their comment, but move the conversation forward before the euphoric pleasure gained from complaining takes hold of either of you.

6. Talk about solutions, not problems.

Sometimes, changing the subject isn’t an option if you want to deal with negative people, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still be positive.

I know that when someone begins dumping complaints on me, I have a hard time knowing exactly what to say. The key is to measure your responses as solution-based.

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You can do this by asking questions like, “Well, how could this be resolved?” or, “How do you think they feel about it?”

Use discernment to find an appropriate response that will help your friend manage their perspectives.

7. Leave them behind.

Sadly, there are times when we have to move on without these friends, especially if you have exhausted your best efforts toward building a positive relationship.

If this person is a family member, you can still have a functioning relationship with them, of course, but you may still have to limit the influence they have over your wellbeing.

That being said, what are some steps you’ve taken to deal with negative people? Let us know in the comments.

You may also want to read: How to Stop the Negative Spin of Thoughts, Emotions and Actions.

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