How to Screen Your Calls

Strategically using your address book can help you screen calls like a pro! Learn Get-It-Done Guy's tricks.

Stever Robbins
4-minute read
Episode #349

I used to love getting phone calls! I would sit by the phone for hours, just waiting for one of my many friends to call. Then I would remember that I didn't have any friends. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Now, I have a great many friends, but still no one calls. Phones have fallen out of favor. We love being interrupted and distracted by our devices bleeping, binging, and popping up text to us. But we really don't like it when actual people call. After all, they might distract us from our texting.

But people still call. Specifically, my dentist's office (to remind me of appointments), political fund-raising campaigns, telemarketing companies, political fund-raising campaigns, public opinion polls, political fund-raising campaigns, debt collection agencies, political fund-raising campaigns, credit card companies, political fund-raising campaigns, charities, and political fund-raising campaigns. Occasionally, a prospect calls, too.

Simply picking up the phone when an unrecognized call comes in has become a real problem. When you're trying to design the perfect Zombie Hydration Chamber (zombies dry out in the hot sun, yet another detail the movies gloss over), a prospect call is fine, but a telemarketing call represents a serious distraction..

Screen With Caller ID and Voicemail

The solution has been with us for decades: screen calls with caller ID and voicemail. When it's focus time, check the caller ID. Pick up if it's a friend, client, or other person you want to speak with. Otherwise, those political fund-raisers go straight to voicemail. They can leave a message.

Political fund-raisers go straight to voicemail!

Interestingly, they rarely do. That's telling. If it's not important enough for them to leave a message, then it's certainly not important enough for you to pick up in the first place. They may argue, "With a voicemail, we'd never talk you into giving us money." Well, that's true. And that's even more reason to let them go to voicemail.

Never Answer Blocked or Unknown Numbers

Those marketing and political fund-raising groups have gotten clever. Now, their caller ID has no name listed. They're smart enough to know if they supplied a name, like Little Red Riding Hood's Find-Raising Service, no one would ever pick up. So they call in from innocent-seeming numbers somewhere in the midwest, where the Nice People are. Or they make sure their numbers are listed as "Blocked" or "Unknown," because that's a sure sign that someone you want to hear from is calling.

If a call comes through from a number you don't recognize, or a number that's blocked or unknown, let it go to voicemail. If they think they need to disguise who they are from you, they must really be trying to hide something they're ashamed of.


About the Author

Stever Robbins

Stever Robbins was the host of the podcast Get-it-Done Guy from 2007 to 2019. He is a graduate of W. Edward Deming’s Total Quality Management training program and a Certified Master Trainer Elite of NLP. He holds an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a BS in Computer Sciences from MIT.