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How to handle an emotionally draining job

This week, I’m answering a question about how to make telephone sales work for you when it seems everyone rolls their eyes each time you call.

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I’ve had an absolutely rotten week. I work in radio and get paid on commission. My job requires that I call businesspeople throughout the day and evening and offer them the chance to get their names mentioned on the air if they’ll sponsor a public-service announcement. It’s a benefit to them and truly good for the community. This is the only job I’ve been able to get in this economy, and I need to know how to make it work. As it is, I went home Friday night in tears.

I wish the people we called understood that those of us doing telephone sales work for a living, too. We’re polite and only asking for a few minutes of their time. I’m respectful when I call, but those on the other end are insulting and rude back, and it’s uncalled-for. I’ll say, “Hello, how are you doing today?” expecting a “Just fine,” so that I can lead into my next question. Half of those I call ask, “Is this a sales call?” I’ve been instructed to say no and ask if they know about the teach-your-child-to-read program, in which parents are given help to encourage reading in their kids.

Yesterday afternoon, a rude woman said, “Cut to the chase.” I explained that her business had the opportunity to get great free advertising by being mentioned on the air, for a donation she might make anyway to support a program that benefits kids. She slammed down the phone. How can I make this work?

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Your phone slammer gave you just the how-to-make-this-work advice you need. A call from a stranger that starts, “Hello, how are you doing today?” immediately tips off the person called that it’s a sales call. When salespeople disguise their intent with chitchat about an opportunity before asking for money, it inspires irritation. Politeness dictates you realize you’re interrupting the person you’re calling and have 30 seconds to show you’re not wasting her time.

You’ll make more money and receive more politeness with a straightforward approach. “Hi, my name is___. Thank you for taking the time to take my call. We offer a low-cost method for getting your business name advertised while you do something good for the community.”

If you call a businessperson who seeks advertising and supports social-service programs, you’ll win a donation. If not, you’ll receive a “No thanks, but good luck” rather than a hang-up.

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Finally, when you’re stuck in a job that wrings you out emotionally — but it’s the only one you can get in a down economy — learn to detox nightly. Instead of taking the home with you to think about it all night or tell your friends how horrible it is, give yourself an every-evening vacation. As you drive or walk away from the work site, think, That’s all you get from me today. Here’s what I’m about for the rest of the night.

You’ll find this refreshes you enough to take the next step — creating an “asset journal.” Every two or three days, write down what your job teaches you about your resilience, inner strength and ability to make the most of a bad situation. Your journal serves two functions: It reminds you why you can take pride in your stick-to-itiveness; and it lets you use what you’ve learned to power your next résumé and job-search cover letter. You may even find yourself laughing when you write about a crank caller you turned around.

Our company helps employers select which applicants to hire, and here’s a cover letter I got recently from a woman formerly stuck in a dead end job. “I saw your job advertised, and here’s why you should hire me. I can stick with a job through thick and thin, and I’ve proved it for last six months in a job many employees would walk away from after a week — sliming fish in a cannery. I handled 10-hour days with good cheer despite being covered by fish guts.” The applicant’s letter was funny, positive and convinced my employer client she had the grit he wanted. As he said, “I’ll hire for attitude and train for skill.”

Have a question? Email Curry at with the subject “SheKnows,” and she may answer you (confidentially) in an upcoming piece on SheKnows.

© 2016, Lynne Curry. Curry is an executive coach and author of Solutions and Beating the Workplace Bully (AMACOM). Follow her through her other posts on, via and or @lynnecurry10 on Twitter. c1

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