Need to Speak to Someone at the Last Minute? Here’s How
It’s 11 PM on a Friday night, and you just realized you’re going to be late for your best friend’s bridal shower tomorrow. You try calling, but her phone goes straight to voicemail, and she hasn’t replied to your text yet either, so you have no way of knowing if she’s even home or will be able to answer the door when you get there. You need to speak to someone at the last minute — or at least get an idea of whether you should still go ahead with your plans for tomorrow or try to reschedule.
The first step is speaking up
A surefire way to get your point across is simply saying what you want as soon as possible. If there’s something you need, don’t wait until it’s almost time for it; if there’s a mistake that has been made, don’t wait until it could become a serious problem—speak up immediately. Keep in mind that your voice matters more than it might seem.
The person on the ground closest to your travel experience is your best bet for ensuring a smooth trip. Whether you need last-minute help with scheduling, rebooking or anything else, always start by asking a staff member of that airline or travel agent if there’s anyone who can help. If they tell you they can’t, don’t give up! Ask them to connect you directly with their manager and then escalate it from there until you find someone who will take control.
Know your company policy
Before calling a customer service representative, be aware of your company’s policies. You might think that you have a simple question for which there is an easy answer; however, you may soon find yourself talking to someone who won’t budge from their company policy. Before speaking with a customer service representative over the phone, research what your company will and won’t do in specific situations.
Practice assertive body language
Assertive body language is key to helping you feel comfortable, confident, and ready when speaking with someone face-to-face. The other person will probably notice if you’re nervous about talking to them, so it’s important that you are able to carry yourself confidently in front of them. Assertive body language involves standing up straight with your shoulders back and walking confidently, with good posture.
Write an email prior to your phone call
You can get in touch with someone at the last minute if you have their email address. After doing a little online sleuthing, send an email explaining why you’re reaching out and what you need from them. No matter how busy your contact is, he or she will appreciate getting a heads up over a phone call. If your email sounds like it would be time-consuming for them to respond to, think about calling instead.
Prepare yourself for a conversation you may be dreading
If you’re dreading a potentially uncomfortable phone call, prepare yourself by doing one or all of these things: take a few minutes to think about your points; practice talking out loud (in front of a mirror, for example); and write down bullet points. To make sure your message is clear and effective, avoid idioms or overly casual language. Also, be sure that you have your facts right—never start with I heard… without getting it confirmed that you have your information straight.
Put yourself in their shoes
Most people dislike unexpected phone calls, which is why they tend to avoid answering their phones. Even if it’s important, they might not pick up a call from an unknown number. If you know someone who can help you, but you have no way of contacting them, try putting yourself in their shoes and imagine how frustrated you would be if someone called out of nowhere with a pressing question (and not leave a voicemail). Your desire for urgency should motivate them enough for them to answer.
Think about how you can help them
When it comes time to talk in front of a group of people, some people get nervous. Some even say they are afraid of public speaking! Knowing how you can help someone who is nervous or afraid when it comes time for them to be in front of an audience will make them feel less stressed and more confident. In turn, their performance will be better than it would have been if they were just up there by themselves. The key is to find out what makes them uncomfortable about being in front of others and then come up with ways that you can alleviate those fears and concerns. For example, if someone says they don’t like talking to groups because they’re worried about saying something stupid (or worse), then give them tips on how to prepare beforehand so that doesn’t happen.
Let it go!
If you can’t find an appropriate place to ask someone out, then it’s a good idea not to ask that person out. If you don’t feel comfortable in your own skin (and/or with whoever you are trying to ask out), then what happens when you two go on a date and things aren’t clicking? It will probably be uncomfortable for both of you, and if that happens, it is better not to have asked him or her out in the first place. That way, neither of you has to worry about how awkward it was later. In other words: Let it go! You’ll save yourself some embarrassment—and maybe even some heartache—in the long run.
When in doubt, ask someone else
If you’re stuck between what to do and what not to do, think about your own values. What kind of person do you want to be in that situation—or any situation, for that matter? If you ask yourself what a good friend would tell you, or a family member or colleague, chances are it will lead you in the right direction. And even if you don’t have someone specific in mind, just asking yourself how you would advise someone else can help put things into perspective. After all, being thoughtful is one of our best qualities as human beings; why wouldn’t we extend that kindness to ourselves?