06 Oct 2015
ARTNews Advice Email List - NEWS & PLANNING


What is an unwelcome caller? Someone who is irrelevant to the running of your business.

THE UNWELCOME CALLER WORKSHOP practices a process of disengagement. This process of disengagement is to be one you are comfortable with. You will have settled on your own by the end of this workshop.

Its simple technique can also be utilised on telemarketers and other callers whose purpose is irrelevant to your business. ARTNews is supplying this workshop because of an unfortunate situation where we are being stalked but technically not in a way that can be policed or sued. In the eyes of both civil and criminal law the stalker's acts of nuisance are viewed to be between the offender and the individual they are calling.

So ARTNews is skilling you up.

How to recognise and effectively terminate a phone call from a very unwelcome person?

Step One: recognise the caller does not do business with your employer

As soon as the caller causes you any look of askance test your suspicions to confirm which course of action to adopt.

Step Two: test your suspicions

All calls are an opportunity to sell. Ask the caller if they are interested in *name your product.* Name a particular artist's artworks for example. If their answer is no, BINGO. You have just confirmed the caller has no business calling you.

Step Three: employ your disengagement strategy

For example, with a smile in your voice say, "thank you for calling :)" and replace the phone on the cradle. It's just an easier day if you're nice.

Some people even have the ability to place the phone on the cradle as soon as they recognise impropriety. Personally, I would find being rude stressful but some have no problem with it.

If you have mastered either of these two skills then read no further. Lesson complete.

The may call back a second time. Your disengagement strategy must be deployed again. They will not call back a third time.


If your staff are inexperienced in this area there may be several things you would want to be aware of as you train them.

Strong Emotional Reactions

People with no experience of the mentally ill at all find themselves feeling put upon and scandalised when they tolerate exposure to a mentally ill person who behaves inappropriately.

Is your staff member a people pleaser? Your staff's instinct may well be to accommodate and please callers. These professional people pleasers can be tied into knots by mentally ill callers. It's imperative that while pleasing your client base the people pleaser be canny about identifying the appropriateness of the call they are handling.

The new thing to learn is something they are unused to and that is that mad people do not make sense. We expect all callers to make sense if we've never encountered them before because people do make sense. There's no such thing as someone in our experience who doesn't make sense. Continuing to engage with an inappropriate caller, expecting them to see reason or make sense, leads to feelings of anger and resentment if not genuine fury. Your otherwise accommodating staff, and they are accommodating if they are continuing to engage with this person on the phone:

* may find themselves pushed to a limit,
* may yell expletives as they feel they now have to get rid of the caller,
* may behave very emotionally and
* may feel out of control.

These emotional scenarios are awful and are much better avoided with early crank caller detection and appropriate action.

Strong Emotional Reactions Can Diminish With Awareness

Role play the idea with your more inexperienced staff members:

* Practice identifying when they are engaging with an inappropriate caller.
* Practice techniques for identifying an inappropriate caller by for example, offering your product to the caller or asking direct questions about their area of interest.
* Practice realising when you are experiencing heightened feelings on a phone call that goes no where. (It doesn't make sense you see. That's the nature of madness.)
* Practice disengaging with the strong emotional state that results from engaging with such a person.

Confronting Experiences Can Be Less Upsetting When You Have A Plan


1. Remember that you can do something about an inappropriate phone call. You do not have to sit there and put up with it.

2. Take a moment to identify how you are feeling in response to the way you are being spoken to. Choosing to be aware of your feelings will change them.

3. Practice your strategies for disengaging. For example, you've established the person has no business calling you. If saying thank you for your call and hanging up is not comfortable, you could add a gentle but firm explanation like,

      "*name of caller,* this is a place of business and we do not have a business relationship with you.
      We must return to work.
      Thank you for your call. Good-bye now."

Or perhaps something a little more direct,

      "*name of caller,* please do not call again."

* Develop your own strategy for terminating the call:


* Once you've established the call is inappropriate, practice taking charge of the phone call and either:
  - drill putting the call through to someone more experienced with effectively terminating an inappropriate call so you know what to do straight away OR
  - practice terminating the call yourself.

Either way, inexperienced staff should never be left to fend for themselves when dealing with this kind of caller in early training.

Remember they and others will typically call back. You will have to do it again. But that will be the end of that.


Another way to check your emotional engagement is to remember that they are suffering under the duress of a serious illness.


1. Ask something so you can be certain it's a crank caller.
2. Identify your own feelings on the call which changes your emotional state.
3. Interrupt and terminate the call.

Thank you for your attention in this important matter. I hope we've been useful. More information on the dynamics of these responses is available on request.

Copyrighted: J. Waterford, 2015

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