The Art of Interruption.

networking_communicationThis meme is making the rounds – and while it is funny, for those who have seen ‘The Princess Bride‘, it really hits an issue that…

Well, it bugs me. It applies to so many things beyond phone calls these days.

Maybe you can blame your parents if you don’t do these things. Maybe it was your peer group. Maybe you were underprivileged and had no access to other humans. Or maybe you just were raised by feral wolves, and you want to go around sniffing other people’s poo. I don’t know. But when dealing with humans, get a few things right instead of wrong.

People, for example, will call and not announce themselves, immediately asking for me (hopefully, or not), assuming I know who it is.

Assume the person you’re calling doesn’t know who you are. Always.

The relevant personal link can be omitted if the person receiving the call knows the personal link. If you don’t know them that well – a good way to judge is whether you know what color their underwear is when you call – assume they don’t, and remind them. If you do know the color of their underwear and they still don’t know who you are, hang up. They have larger issues than you, and you probably sound creepy to them. Expect a visit from local law enforcement.

Managing expectations is a good idea – or, simply getting to the point so the receiving person knows what this is about. I’m the person who doesn’t respond to messages that start with, “Hello”, or, “Hi”, or, “How are you?”. You’re messaging or calling for a reason, get to the point – with some caveats.

Also, assume they don’t have a lot of time or are busy.  “Are you busy?” or “Do you have a few minutes?” lets people have a chance to tell you that maybe you should call back when they can focus on a conversation that you think is important enough to interrupt their time for. If they think it’s important, they’ll handle it then. If they have immediate things to deal with, don’t be an idiot – let them deal with those things. Unless you’re dying and the emergency phone operator puts you on hold. But then, what can you do?

Getting to the point is a big thing for me. When you interrupt my life, I expect you to have a point unless you’re a very personal part of my life (I will know the color of the underwear, or will be interested to know).

I don’t care if it’s hard for you to get to the point. Get to the point. Don’t dance around it. Don’t give me your life history.

And for the love of all that is human, if you don’t get a hold of me, don’t keep trying immediately. Leave a message. Try in a while. Maybe I’m too busy dealing with something. Maybe I’m in the toilet. Maybe I’m talking to someone. Maybe I’m in a meeting. Maybe I just don’t feel like talking to you right now. Maybe you’re not as important as you think you are (there’s a reality check). For whatever reason, when people don’t respond immediately, it doesn’t mean you should keep pestering them immediately, unless it’s an emergency.

An emergency is life or death. I’m not a doctor. If you’re dead, you have no business calling me. If you’re in the process of dying, you should probably see a doctor. If you were just born, I will get to you – you should have a while for that to happen.

If it’s business, I will get back to you.

Take a breath.



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