There are times when you have a moment that is not really going how you were expecting it to go. For example, your making sales calls and you contact someone who appears interested in your services or product. You make an appointment. You meet with the prospective client. Things are looking good. They appear interested. They even ask you to bid on a project. In the bid process you ask for some critical information that will effect the bid. Your told that they will gather the information and get it to you. You wait, then call about a week later. You get voicemail. You wait, then call about a week later. You get voicemail again. One more time! Same result and no return call. It seems like they are avoiding you or at a minimum lack enough courtesy to return your call with some kind of status.

So what do you do? Call one more time to leave a nasty message? Forget about them altogether? Keep calling every week until you get a call back? Stakeout their parking lot and bum rush them as they exit their car?

The answer is none of these things. Granted a return call would have clarified everything, but do not make assumptions. You have no idea what is going on in another persons life. To put things into perspective you are not even a part of their life yet. You are trying to get into their life. Stop and think about that for one minute… now one more. Catastrophic events like death in the family, terminal illness, or even divorce can push you way down on someone list of calls to return.

It’s not an excuse for bad behavior. It’s a test of your own coping skills. Stop and think about what you will get from your actions. Was your ego really injured, really? This is not a fight or flight situation either. Your trying to make or continue a relationship in one form or another.

Step back. Give them some breathing room. Assume that it is not a personality fault and move on. If you must say your peace, shoot them an email or send a fax stating that you will file the bid for now and will contact them again sometime in the future. Keep it brief and no jabs. You never know when you may bump into this person again or under what circumstances.

Surprise, I had this very situation happen to me. About 2 years later I had this very same prospective client call a friend of his looking for a programmer. His friend happened to be a new client that I was negotiating with for a development project. Guess who the prospects friend, my new client, referred as a potential match for his programming needs? … Me! Now the exchange between the two of them must have been positive since I am working with both now.

Looking back, it would have so easy to vent about unreturned calls and burned that bridge. He would have had nothing good to say when he realized who was being referred to him. I can hear is now, “Who!? That #&@#!$@ is such a #&@#!$@. How long have you been working with him?” That would have been 2 bridges down and 2 less projects for me. Simply try to treat people how you would want to be treated. Show a little professional courtesy yourself.

If that doesn’t help be prepared to work even harder to over come the obstacles you are building into your work life. Once out three times back be it good, bad, positive or negative.