Saturday, February 16, 2008

Do you keep talking?

I've noticed that people don't seem to want to take the hint when the call they're on with you is getting so old it's starting to grow hair. Subtlety doesn't seem to do it. In fact, I've spoken with bizexecs who think that the effectiveness of a call is directly proportional to how long it lasted. They seem tone deaf to the uncomfortable attempts to exploit an opening to end the call.

People seem to have trouble finding the end of conversations or sensing that the other person was ready to run. "If I can just keep her talking...."

So, how to you get off the phone before you consider stabbing yourself in the neck with that letter opener your kids made you for Father's Day?

I start my conversations by setting the context for the call: "Janet, I'd like about 5 minutes of your time to discuss XXX" or "Hi Jim. You want to talk about YYY? I have about 5 minutes for that conversation right now and then I'll have to run." Creating the context at the beginning of each call makes it easier at the end to jump off: "Janet, that's my 5 minutes. Gotta dash." If it's a very short call, I don't make room for smalltalk "Janet, remember, I only have that 5 minutes and I'd like to really focus on how I can help you."