I'm the Queen of the Non-Career Enhancing Conversation

If you're a regular reader of this blog (or the Hiring blog), you can see that I'm not shy or demure. I'm blunt and direct. And in most circumstances, I manage to straight-talk without hurting anyone, even myself. But that wasn't the case earlier this week.

I was writing the PM book, concentrating. The phone rang. (Note to self: Put the phone to voicemail when writing.) I answered “Johanna Rothman.” The nice person on the other end was on a speakerphone and paused a moment before saying, “This is Nice Person from a-company-who-sends-you-multiple-credit-card-offers-in-the-mail. Is this a good time to talk?”

I assume Nice Person is a telemarketer, and say, “Not if you're going to try to sell me something.” Blunt and direct, right? Yup. Nice Person picks up the handset, and says, “I wanted to talk to you about the Managing One-on-One workshop.”

I got that knotty feeling in my stomach, and said, “I'm sorry. I thought you were a telemarketer. Can we do this over again? I'm Johanna and it's nice to meet you.” We went on from there.

My assumptions–a slight pause, speakerphone, and the company name implies telemarketer–might have been right most of the time, but not this time. Luckily, Nice Person seemed to have taken it well. But I bet it's not the first time this has happened.

I'm an idiot sometimes, and this was one of them. One of my great strengths–putting the clues together to see the system and being able to discuss it clearly–is also one of my greatest weaknesses. For those of you who were at my StarWest keynote, this is yet another non-career enhancing conversation. (Maybe I should develop a keynote about non-career enhancing conversations and show how to change just one or two things to change them into career-enhancing conversations. Let me know if you'd go to a conference to hear that.:-)

We all have assumptions. And some of us jump to conclusions quickly with the clues we have. But we don't always have all the clues, as I didn't in this conversation. If you also jump to conclusions as I do, make sure you're not embarking on a non-career enhancing conversation. Those conversations are not always as easy to rescue or start over. And they may prevent you from gathering more clues.

The more information you gather, the easier it is to have a career-enhancing conversation, instead of the other kind.

4 Replies to “I'm the Queen of the Non-Career Enhancing Conversation”

  1. Good post, but maybe you’re being a little too hard on yourself. I think it’s unprofessional and rude to call people using a speaker phone. If the Nice Person calls a lot of people on the speaker phone, and identifies herself as being from some mega-corp that sometimes annoys consumers, I bet that Nice Person frequently gets the same reaction from others too. But I liked your post!

  2. I think you are being too hard on yourself, too. Your instincts save you time 99% of the time. Just because the 1% comes up, doesn’t mean you should change to a lower performing model.
    On the otherhand, the non-angry “what is this regarding?” approach doesn’t cost anything more.

  3. Not your fault. It was their choice to work for a consumer finance company. Your instinctively negative response to them has a direct causal link back to their employer’s parasitic business practices.

  4. We all love you as you are, so please, do not change too much.It might be sometimes a mistake to jump with a snap conclusion. The “Blink” book provides a lot of insight about this. However speaking more technically the question is what would be the most effective way for a consultant to advertise herself minimising the risk of e-mail and telephone spam? How could you effectively filter out all these “please pay me” and to get stright to “I want to pay you”?

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