“It’s your dime, mister.”

A few minutes ago, one of our phones rang again. Having this occur around the Central Standard Lunchtime, and having the ring sound on the heels of – no kidding – four previous automated calls within less than 30 minutes, I was surprised to hear my darling Michael having an actual conversation with a human being.*

“Wow,” I said after the call ended. “An actual human being! You must be royalty or something!”

“Nah,” says he. “He just wants something.”

Now, funny as this exchange between the two of us was, it made me shake my head. The call was brief, but the result was telling: what a sad thing to get pegged as the guy or gal who is always after something for themselves.

It made me think about the last couple of months in my Yahoo email account. Being the designated shopper for the household, this is where my membership, loyalty program, and sales notifications get directed. It’s tidier that way. The entire universe has been 20% off for weeks now, and telling me that again and again with holly graphics has been the way that all but a few of my vendors have chosen to wish me well during the holy season.

There was one outstanding exception, however: still in my in-box, and starred so that I can find it and savour it, is a message from the president of a firm to which I give occasional business. It just thanks me and wishes me well. It is long. It is personal. I’m keeping it.

Don’t get me wrong. I believe to my core in the sales process and in having the courage of the ask. I also believe, however, that there needs to be a reciprocity in business as in all of life. You can’t always have your hand out, or that gets to be not just what you’re known for but also who you are. Repetition creates character. That’s what you did with your children, right?

There’s a fine line these days between just getting someone on the phone and nattering away at them companionably to brighten their corner and doing so to fill your emptiness or your pockets. It’s easy to stray over the ethical line at any moment, particularly when our phones are always attached to us and we don’t have to “insert another dime for additional minutes.” This, however, is where inner awareness becomes essential.

Why are you doing what you are doing?

That’s the question all day long, every day. When you can answer with confidence that everyone wins, keep talking.



*By the way, robo-callers, you’re missing some great stuff by not picking up the phone and at least listening to him. The things he says to the machinery are hysterical!