I had the misfortune recently to endure two calls with office multitaskers. What unpleasant experiences. Are these Planned Giving fundraisers making their prospects and donors suffer their multitasking? I genuinely hope not.
The calls had been prearranged, not a surprise to either of them. Not that it matters. If you pick up the phone, the caller has the right to expect your attention. If you’re busy with something else, don’t answer. It will go to voice mail and you return the call when you can give your attention to the person seeking it.
I feel compelled to explain this inanely simple courtesy and professional comportment because it has been forgotten–or never learned–by some. You will find valuable advice on a friend’s site: The Attention Factor.
Multitaskers: you are rude to a person you’re on the phone with if you:
- Type, unrelated to the call
- Check email
- Carry on an extended conversation with someone else
- Open mail, or sift through papers unrelated to the call
- Staple, fold, spindle, mutilate or shred papers. (Aside from diners that only accept cash, does anybody spindle any more?)
- Otherwise don’t pay full attention to the call
I can tell when someone is multitasking, and I venture that most people can–including Planned Giving donors and prospects.
Here are 7 symptoms I’ve observed:
- Responses are delayed a second or two; inability to maintain normal conversational pace
- Long pauses, sometimes with sequela of other voices
- Vague responses, including excessive reliance on “OK” and “uh-huh,” attempting to mask the malady
- “I’m sorry, what did you say?” Defined in the literature as an “unctuous apology.”
- Keyboard or mouse clicking; stapler stapling; other desk-work sounds
- Apple “whoosh” that accompanies outgoing email
- Listening to talk radio (exception: Tony Martignetti Nonprofit Radio. If that’s your program, the caller is the distraction. Don’t answer. But it’s unlikely you’ll be called during the show. Phone company officials and counterterrorism agencies are baffled by the nationwide drop in phone calls between 1 and 2PM Eastern, every Friday. I have the explanation: subscribe to it on iTunes.)
Multitaskers: May I have your attention? Seek treatment! You are being rude. You are wasting our time.
In case you’re tempted, you won’t find a silent stapler. The solution isn’t to manage other tasks quietly. That treats the symptoms. Approved treatment regimens proscribe other activities while you talk on your office phone.
If you’re a “professional” fundraiser, you risk alienating your prospects and donors.
Planned Giving fundraisers, I assure you older people are sensitive to your distractions and feel you aren’t paying attention to them. They feel you are insincere. They are correct. Trying to build sound and lasting relationships you say?
You are shooting yourself in the chest.