Saturday, October 03, 2009


"I'm sorry," I interrupted his scripted remarks after answering the phone, "but no. I'd sincerely like to help and I do support charities, but there are just so many groups that telemarket that I'm giving a blanket refusal."

"We only call once a year!" he protested happily, and I shrugged and cut him off again as he went into how children/elderly/veterans/sick/nature/household pets/polar bears/science desperately needed my help.

"The problem," I said clearly, "is that I can't help everyone. There are a number of very worthy charities but I'm largely ignorant of their mission and background. I have neither time nor money nor patience to carefully consider three proposals each evening so I've ruthlessly simplified the process. If you call, the answer is no. Send me email, we're cool - I'll consider it. But I do have a set of pet projects where I'm happy to donate. So," I concluded, feeling rather good about my decision, "I appreciate your time and wish you all the best. But I won't be able to help with a contribution this or any other year that you call me at home."

I placed the receiver gently in the cradle and repeated the same message when another person called not 20 minutes later. It's easier, frankly, to use general rules to guide my reaction to situations. I'm so mentally tired much of the time that having a flow chart structure guiding my decisions. For example, when dealing with customers, I ask what the right thing is. I then evaluate if doing that could get me fired. If yes, I apologize and refuse. If no, will doing it screw over my team in terms of workload? If yes, I apologize and refuse. If no, will doing it screw me over?

I used to go into this complicated ranking at this point - how much do I care about the customer? Don't I really want to do what's right? I have some time if I wake up at 4 rather than 5AM on Thursday and might be able to manage to move some meetings so that I can handle. And while I was internally debating and reviewing my other priorities, people sensed weakness, pushed me a little and I ended up saying yes.

I don't debate so much anymore. If I can do it that week, I'll say yes. If I can't, I'll offer to revisit it at some undefined time. It's easier.

The same sort of decision tree applies to blogging. Do I feel like it? If no, don't do it. Do I have time? If no, don't do it. Do I have anything worthwhile to say? If no, don't do it.

I'm fine. Stuff happens. And, eventually, I'll start telling you about it again.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

saying no is liberating. thinking of you...

Post a Comment