“Oh no, there goes the better part of an hour!” You look at the name on the display screen of your phone and realize the caller is someone who, although very dear, has an inordinate love of sharing every detail of her rather uneventful life with whomever she can capture on the other end of the line.
Ordinarily, it doesn’t matter. You don’t mind lending an ear when she needs to talk. She’s done many favors for you. In addition, she may be a family member, or a lifelong friend. But today is a busy day for you, and you just can’t spend a long time on the phone. How do you get away quickly without hurting her feelings?
* Tell the truth. Say you’re sorry but you can only spend ten minutes on the phone because you’re on a tight schedule. Explain what lies ahead in your busy day. Stick to the time limit.
* It your phone is in the kitchen, set the timer on the stove to ring in 10 minutes. When it goes off, break in with, “Oh, there’s the cake! Gotta go. Talk to you later”.
* Teach the dog a hand signal for barking. After a 10 minute conversation, give the signal. ” Oh, Spot is telling me there’s someone at the door. We’ll have to finish this conversation another time.”
* I’m on a new medication which is effective but has a nasty side effect. When you have to go, you have to go. Oh dear. I hear nature calling. I’ll get back to you when I’m feeling more like myself.”
* At the onset of the conversation, tell her that you’re waiting for an important call from your spouse, or the school, or the President, if need be. After 5 minutes, reiterate that you’re anxious about that call. Promise to talk another time when you can concentrate on the topic under discussion.
* If you’re taking classes, you might have an assignment due tomorrow which you haven’t even started.
* The dryer is finished, and you want to hang up the clothes immediately so you won’t have to iron them.
* Your pet has an appointment at the grooming salon. If you’re late, or miss it, you are expected to pay anyway. You can just make it if you leave now.
* You have to pick up your (mother, child, aunt, spouse, grandparent) at the (library, gym, beauty salon, movies, mall) in ten minutes.
* Oh dear. You’re in the middle of your calling list for the bazaar, (Christmas party, picnic, barbecue, bowling banquet). Can you call her later?
If you find yourself using these excuses more than two or three times a month, you’ll have to take a firmer approach. Tell your talkative friend that you feel you are spending too much time on the phone and you have decided to restrict your calls. From now on, you’ll only talk on Mondays and Thursdays between 8:00 and 9:00 P.M.
In the event of an emergency, she can leave a message on the answering machine and you may return the call. She might be offended, but you are doing her a favor.
You’re teaching her a lesson, one of which she is sorely in need. One day, she may thank you. Or not.
After all, what are friends for?