Many clients and workshop participants share with me that they have a difficult time letting people know that they’re in the middle of something, so they end up dropping everything to answer that person’s question, react to the request or shoot the breeze with them. These folks say they don’t want to be rude by letting the other person know that they can’t speak right now.
At this point in our discussion, we head into a lesson about setting expectations. I share with them four language tips to use in order to diplomatically get their point across. But now, I’ve got a great “case study” to add as an example.
The other day, a client asked if I could work with her mother to help get all of her estate documents in shape. I do this with business owners, operations managers, and other employees, so why not help with this residential project? And by project, we’re talking about two offices full of shelving units which are full of boxes stuffed with documents.
It was important to me to speak with her mother because her mom should have the chance to interview me, ask questions, and get to know me a bit before agreeing to start this working relationship. I was to call her on Thursday afternoon.
I did, but no one answered. No problem. That’s what voicemail is for.
A little later, around 3:00, I received this text:
I wanted to let you know that Susan is free now to visit. Call the cell.
She does not take calls when Jeopardy is on which is 4:25 to 5.
A caregiver pops in around 5:15 to 5:45. The rest of the evening she is free up until 7.
Polite. Matter of fact. Clear. Now that is how you set expectations in order to focus on your priorities.
For details on how to set expectations with others (and basically mind-control them into making life easier on you!), take a look at The Inefficiency Assassin: Time Management Tactics for Working Smarter, Not Longer.