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The Toughest Call Of All

‘You can’t be brave if you’ve only had wonderful things happen to you.’ – Mary Tyler Moore.

Imagine this scenario: I was sitting underneath my desk with my head in my hands, absolutely shaking with fear. I am now ashamed of the reason but I just didn’t want to deal with it. Why this reaction? 


I have a friend I regularly have coffee with, Andrew Cohen. One day he told me this story about a client that was upset with him and how everything had gone wrong with said client. His exact words were: ‘So the client called and I knew what he wanted. I knew he was pissed off, so I answered it….‘ And there is the big difference between Andrew and I. You see, he had the courage to take that call and I….did not. 

In our career, businesses and in life, you’re going to have challenges, people are going to not have the happiest of conversations with you and things are going to go pear shaped. The key to these challenges is to just get up and face them. 


I have to admit that throughout my life I have ducked, weaved and delayed taking a phone call when I knew the other person was disappointed or upset with me. On one occasion a client was after me following a disastrous article from an interview we set up. I got so freaked out about the conversation I had to have with him that I actually sat under my desk to hide from taking the call! My secretary walked into my office looking for me and I just sat silent, consumed by my inability to just handle the situation. 

This is obviously not ideal. Actually, that’s an understatement. The situation was ridiculous! It’s definitely not a moment I am proud of and would love to proclaim about, however it DID happen and that’s why I want to share it with you. To show you that we all have weaknesses, we all have moments where we will struggle in our career. It’s going to happen, it’s your reaction to it that determines the outcome. 

Personally, I have always admired those who answer the phone when they know it is a cranky me calling. I respect that backbone and that display of grit. It speaks of strength and character! This applies just as much to making (or taking) that tough phone call as well as giving someone bad news. 

I hate it, I fear it and I try my best to avoid or delay it. It probably is because I don’t want people to think poorly of me or I don’t want to let others down, hurt them. Whatever the reason, I know that my reaction to tough situations has given me anxiety, have wasted time and have damaged relationships instead of strengthening them. 

When Andrew told me he always takes tough calls, I took a very powerful message from it:


Have the guts to stand up for yourself and your actions, take the heat that will inevitably come from time to time. Make the very important decision TODAY to ‘always take the tough calls’. That means making the hard phone calls, having the tough conversations and answering that phone when you know you’re in for a butt-kicking. 

Don’t follow my track record of fear. Be strong! Stand tall and step up. Take action today and take the tough call. Always. 

Chris Savage regularly writes about his own business and career experiences to help others with theirs. You can check out more of his great advice on his blog Wrestling Possums. If you want to publish your career, business or leadership thoughts with us on this blog, reach out to Marketing today. 

About the author

Angela Cameron - CA, CPA

Executive Director

A chartered accountant by qualification, she is a recruitment leader by nature.

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