Several years ago, I was inundated with calls asking for donations.  We all were!  When my wife answered such a call, I was appalled with her brusque response: “We’ve already chosen our charities for the year” and then she would hang up.  “How rude!” I would say (to myself, of course).  “Have you no empathy for the caller?  Can’t you treat them with respect?”

So when I would answer, I would listen with empathy.  I cared!  And after several minutes of boredom, I would try and end the call with no commitment.  More often, however, I would agree to donate some small amount ($25 – $50), adding “Send me an invoice in the mail” – which I rarely paid.  Which inevitably led to follow-up notices in the mail and calls (which led to me fearing the sound of the phone ring.  Think about the harm done by me being a “nice guy”:

I wasted their time!I made it difficult for them to reach their daily call quota. I wasted charity resources in following up with calls and invoices.
to ME
I’ve wasted my time!By not planning on paying the invoice, I’ve “cheated my soul”!By avoiding mail and phone calls, I lived in fear.

I dreaded those calls, yet – being a “nice guy” – I couldn’t say “no”!

Until my wife one day gave me some ground-breaking advice – she told me to simply say, “We’ve already chosen our charities for the year” and then hang up.

I did, but added “But I wish you well, and have a great day!”  to maintain my “nice guy” image.  And then I hung up.


Niceness led to dishonesty, and many unfavorable consequences.  A simple well-rehearsed “plan of action” consistent with what I was thinking changed my life – literally!