Are you effective at saying “no” to colleagues who waste your time? If you answered “no,” you’re not alone. To read the rest of this article from the Dallas Business Journal, see: Don’t let time-wasters impose on you http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/stories/2005/07/18/smallb3.html
We’ve all experienced time-wasters – people who regularly interrupt, gossip, tell bad jokes, share intimate details about their marriages or aches and pains, or go on endlessly about religion, politics or people they’re angry with.
Sometimes, they’re friendly, likeable people and we’re drawn in by their personalities and stories. Sometimes they’re needy, malicious, annoying people who leave us feeling like we’re buried in dirty laundry, or limp, like our blood has been drained, or so frustrated we could scream.
Whether they waste our time because they’re friendly, bored, lazy, enjoy gossiping, need to tell their sad story, want to be liked or have hidden agendas, they’re oblivious to our need to get back to work.
There are two distinct steps we need to take in order to break free from time-wasters:
- Give ourselves permission to say "No."
- Then make our “no” effective.
The first step is harder than it seems for many people. These people hold themselves captive to this bullying and abuse because they think the most important value is being nice, kind and not asking directly for what they want. They let themselves get bullied because they’re too polite to resist.
Other feelings and reasons that typically keep people from setting boundaries effectively are: see whole article.
Time-wasters who ignore standard, indirect cues are rude. We have to decide what’s more important; old rules about pleasing people or our need to succeed.
We’re not their therapists. We’ve already tried to solve their problems and failed. They’ve said, “Yes, but” to every suggestion. We’ve also tried to like them enough so they won’t feel needy, but they’re always back the next day looking for more.
The second step to saying no effectively is to follow up with effective action. Asking is not enough because, by definition, relentless time-wasters don’t respond to common, subtle cues.
Imagine a staircase of responses, moving up from the most indirect to more direct, firm ones. Most people begin by giving indirect cues like ignoring time-wasters when they first come in, looking at their watches, turning away and continuing a task while they’re being talked at.
Since that hasn’t worked, we have to look and sound firmer as time-wasters force us to up the level of our response in order to get them to leave. Start with a smile, control our side of the interaction and act as consistently as we can. For more suggestions: see whole article.
A coaching client had been afraid that Mike would tell everyone that she was callous and hostile if she tried to stop allowing him to waste her time. But when she used the methods we developed, people heard that she was able to get Mike out of her office. They came to learn her methods. Soon everyone in their corridor succeeded and Mike had to go to other floors to find listeners.
The exact words don’t matter. The key is the power of “you” behind the words – our determination and firmness. Don’t wait until we have a perfect response; simply remove time-wasters. Actions speak louder than words.
How we cope with time-wasting bullies depends on whether we’re a peer, a supervisee or a supervisor. There are no formulas, but there are guidelines.
Often, individuals need coaching and organizations need consulting to help them design and implement a plan that fits the situation. To get the help you need, call Ben at 1-877-828-5543.