Common questions

Recently a relative who was coming to stay with me phoned beforehand for instructions on how to find me. I talked her through it and sent her written instructions and a map. She phoned again when she got the map and we talked it through. However she got lost on her way here. This is a highly educated, successful and capable person. I had the feeling she was not listening. Is there some way I could do better next time?

  • I would assume from what you say that she totally lacks confidence and is always getting lost when travelling to a new location.
  • Worrying that she would get it wrong again would have affected her listening ability.
  • Rather than telling her how to do it, I would try to establish what she did know about getting there and I would keep checking her interpretation of the next step, and the next step. You can then gently correct her if she gets it wrong
  • Patience and reassurance is probably what she needs in order to engage her brain and concentrate on what you are saying. (Think you are giving instructions to a child, but without patronizing your highly educated friend!).

I have to phone people to seek donations for a well known educational organisation. The people I call are past members and understand why I am calling. I am doing this as a voluntary effort and I have had no special training. Do you have any advice you can give me?

  • Establish credibility with the person you call.
  • Do not overstate the case or talk at length. Be brief.
  • Listen carefully to judge if they are interested.
  • If you pick up positive signals, close the deal.
  • Be clear about the next stage. e.g. Send cheque, payable to..etc.
  • Thank them graciously.

I never say sorry and think people who do are feeble-minded. Do you agree?

  • Saying sorry excessively is meaningless and tiresome.
  • Saying sorry in a sarcastic, insincere manner is offensive.
  • Apologizing about your appearance, speech, accent, lack of preparation is unnecessary and unprofessional.
  • If you have offended or wronged someone, saying sorry is the only way to heal the anger and resentment felt by that person. You will feel better too.
  • If someone is not speaking to you after an argument and you think what you said was fair but they took it badly, you will lose that friend unless you say sorry and mean it.
  • It is normal to say sorry or a similar apology if we bump into people.

Send me an e-mail with your question and I will reply if possible.


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