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A Game-Changing Conversation: Why You Really Need to Return That Call

“I heard from XXXX last week. Yes, I talked to him last
week also, and he told me you did not return his call.”
Like a lot of you, I have friends who are still clawing back
from the near economic collapse. During that era, I was in the publishing
business which was (and still is) being decimated by the digital era.
Business disruptors have
this effect on industry. A lot of people get thrown overboard as companies try
to find the rudder to steady the ship.
And those people are our friends, families and co-workers.
Some of us, on the other hand, were a bit more nimble and
able to hang on
, and like an acrobat, landed at the right
spot at the right time. We could also have been among the ones that faltered,
but we were able to brush ourselves off and get back on track.
Life is a two-way street

This post is dedicated to both. Last week was a tough one
for me. One of my dear friends from my days at Martha Stewart died

We toiled there for years and we rode
the roller coaster to career success, both of us getting to the vice
presidential level. He was a fellow executive who was there when I got there,
and he was still there when I decided to leap off that fast-moving train.

After years of layoffs, he was finally shown the door.He was like of lot of workers. You see the turmoil around
you and you never give thought that one day you could arrive and be “ambushed”
too. Just like that, you are out of a job.
My friend had never updated his resume, never gave a thought
to next step, never had a career plan. The problem with this approach is that
searching for a job today is 180 degrees different than it used to be “back in
the day.”
When he lost his job, we did lunch, we did breakfast, we
talked, I mentored, I coached, and we stayed connected. I always took his calls
at any time of the day or night, and I made sure that I always called back.
This was not special treatment for him; it is the way I try
to live my life. Someone mentioned to me last week that “you are HR 100 percent
of the time.” I took that as a badge of honor.

Are you an ignorer?
My problem is that right now, and
probably over the last few years, some of you have also received calls, emails,
and request from people like my friend. I have even reached out to people on
behalf of other professionals and not gotten a response. My question is, what
happened to us?
We hear it in their voices, we read the body language and
the confidence they wore like a suit of armor that is now in shreds, and yet we
ignore the calls, we duck, we do not respond, we don’t even say “there is
nothing I can do.” We get a call for help and we keep life on cruise control,
mindlessly headed to our next destination. Some of us just do not want to get
involved.
My friend committed suicide because he could not find a job
despite being immensely qualified, like so many others.
He had reached out to so many people, but the difference of
a few years was such that now, no one would return his calls. He was longer the
VP. He had always been there for people, and he just could not understand why
now they were not there for him.
When you are hot, everyone will return your call. When you
are on top, emails are returned and are at the top of the pile. You think
nothing of it because you are on top of the world.
But the problem is that when that crumbles, all the dynamics
change. The people that would gladly collaborate with you are now so busy that
can’t return the phone call or respond to the message. That complete change in
dynamics is hard for the fallen to understand.

By your choice or no choice

My issue is that regardless of your
career height, you can also be brought down at the snap of a finger. Think of
it this way:  you job and level is only temporary. You will probably not
retire there, and you will not be there forever. Those are the NEW career
dynamics.
This is why it behooves all of us to help wherever we can:
coffee, lunch, email, phone call, or whatever you can do. That friend who
always calls would be uplifted if you would just take the time to call them
once in a while rather than having them call you all the time.
Better still, why not just acknowledge the messages they
have left for you rather than making them having to keep on calling until they
get an answer?
We all have friends who are like this. We know they are very
busy, and we know they are on our side. We also know that they’re very busy and
are not ignoring us for some negative reason. They are being uncommunicative
simply because they’re pressed for time, which is why it’s not necessary to
take it too personally.

Are you really that busy?
However, sometimes it’s a little hard
not to get a little frustrated. We all have busy lives. I am constantly running
from one place to another, stressed out over trying to get everything done,
with very little time left for myself. We can all be somewhat guilty of this,
and we can all fail to return phone calls at times due to being in a harried
state of mind.
But even in those cases, when we get a message from someone
asking us to call them, we can’t even find five minutes to do so?
There are multiple platforms to get back to them: text,
email, Facebook, LinkedIn, or others for acknowledging that you did actually
receive the message and will schedule a time to follow up. That is what you
would do with a customer or some other “important” individual. You would never
leave them hanging.
Whether you admit it or not, we are all in this together. We
have to stay in touch. We have to follow-up with our friends
My good friend George committed suicide. He was profoundly
depressed. One of the things that he would always bring up was that the peers
he knew as he climbed the ladder, the ones that had him on speed dial, would
not return his calls and emails when he most needed it. He just could not
understand that.

Nobody is THAT busy 
I knew what my late friend George spoke
of because I have heard the same story from numerous people in the same
situation. But, I always want to believe that we, as humans, are better than
this. We need to rethink our lives and our connections to the people in it.
Regardless of your current station in life, nobody is too
busy to NOT return a phone call. Nobody is too busy to NOT pick up the
phone to brighten someone’s day.
It is not like we do not know who needs us. We know them, we
have their number, and we have all of their contact information.
Have you ever called someone out of the blue and noticed how
happy they were to hear from you? Well that shows that connecting is a two-way
street. When we give, we get back.
So next time that number pops up and you are tempted to
ignore it, or that email comes in and you glance at it and move on, DON’T.
This could be a game-changing conversation that would not
only help the person on the other end, but also makes us better human beings


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