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Tip: Are you “itmos”?

Tip of the Week
09/16/13

Tip: Are you “itmos”?

One of the most important things you can do when you call someone on the phone is to start by asking them, “Are you “itmos?”  Now, I know you are wondering what in the world “itmos” is, so let me explain.  (I think you will soon see that I love this Tip!)

“Itmos” stands for “in the middle of something.”  When you call someone and ask “Are you itmos?” you are showing them that you respect their time and it gives them the freedom and opportunity to tell you a better time to call, if necessary.  If instead you ask, “Are you busy?” that seems to infer that they might be doing nothing and that can be offensive.  Besides, by asking, “Are you itmos?” you will get their attention as well as show that you are being courteous.  It will also probably give you both a grin when you go on to explain its meaning.

I learned this secret from my daughter, Esther and her friend, Tavie.  Whenever they call me, the first thing they say is, “Are you itmos?”  The first time they asked me that, I didn’t know what it meant so I said, “Am I WHAT?!”  And then they said, “You know, “itmos”…i-t-m-0-s…in the middle of something.”  I started laughing and they did, too.  But, it made me feel respected for them to ask and it also let me know they valued my time and were being courteous to let me know they cared about whether or not they were interrupting my day.

We seem to live in a world where there is a drought concerning the use of manners.  I was taught to say, “Yes, ma’am” and “Yes, sir” to adults.  When I was in military school they taught us to answer roll call with, “Here, Sir!” or “Here, Ma’am!”  You don’t hear much of that these days.  However, I think it is still a good idea to demonstrate respect to others.  In fact, I say “yes, sir” and “yes, ma’am” to people who are younger than me.  It usually surprises them and catches them off-guard, but I have never found it to be a bad habit.  On the contrary, I find it to be an attention getter and an incredible way to demonstrate kindness and respect towards other people.

Taking a moment when you call to ask if it is a good time to talk demonstrates that you have good manners and realize that the person you called may be doing something else which would make a conversation inconvenient.  It also shows respect.

Now, I know that you are thinking, “Well, Dr. Rohm, you don’t have to answer the phone every time somebody calls you!”  That’s true.  However, I cannot tell you how many phone calls I get right in the middle of my business day from someone who seemingly wants to “chit-chat”.  I dislike being interrupted while I am trying to focus on completing my daily tasks.  But, I am not comfortable communicating to them that I am right in the middle of my work day and that it isn’t a convenient time to talk.  I try not to be rude to anyone even though it feels like they are being rude to me!  I usually ask if I can call back a little later in the day.  However, how hard would it be for them to ask me if I am itmos before rushing ahead with their conversation?

We often have times throughout our day when there is a lull that would create a better time to talk, or even better, a phone appointment could be set for a more advantageous time for both parties.  This really does work both ways; if I expect people to value my time, then I should demonstrate that I value theirs as well.  I need to ask, “Are you itmos?” too!

So, now you have a new word to learn and a new project to begin.  I promise you that this is going to be fun!  Whether you call a family member, someone in business, or someone that you do not even know, start by asking them if they are itmos.  And, don’t be surprised if they say, “What?!”  Then you can answer, “You know, itmos…i-t-m-o-s. Are you in the middle of something?  Because if you are, I can wait until it is a good time for us to talk.”  You will be pleasantly surprised by the reception you get when you demonstrate manners, respect, and genuine concern for other people’s time.

Have fun with this one.  I use it every day and it always pays rich dividends!

Thanks Esther and Tavie!

Tip: Are you “itmos”?

Have a great week!  God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm

Robert Rohm

Top selling author and speaker, Robert Rohm Ph.D. is founder of Personality Insights Inc. and The Robert Rohm Co. As you will see, Dr. Rohm specializes in helping people better understand themselves and others.

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