Interruptions are the worst.
The most important life events play out through critical conversations, like getting married (or divorced), negotiating the job, or giving the green light for a new project. Even a home run becomes official only when the umpire yells “safe.”
And then there are interruptions. . . .
Interruptions are annoying with the exception being that rare, if ever, unicorn moment when your boss bursts in to tell you about your fat new raise or promotion!
Interruptions contribute to errors, quality problems, lost productivity, and re-work. Even death.
No kidding. At hospitals, a leading cause of nurses’ mistakes with a patient’s meds is interruptions!
Because of interruptions, you now have even less time to do everything you’ve been trying to get done.
Reality includes interruptions, but you can delay certain conversations when it’s not a convenient time for you to discuss The Issue.
The worst kind of interruption is an office ambush. That’s an interruption to discuss something critical (as compared to an interruption to shoot the breeze or vent frustration) and it’s just not a good moment for you. You may have your mind in a totally different place and need to recalibrate or you haven’t been able to locate the needed data.
Is this a good time?
If you’re asked “Is this a good time?” and you don’t know for what, better to say that you’re busy. Then as you find out more, maybe you can quickly resolve the issue or delay the discussion.
Any time someone wants to discuss a sticky topic and you’re not prepared, the best way through it is to delay. Even taking a 5-minute break in the rest room allows you to compose your thoughts, breathe in deeply, and go out calmly.
Proactively prepare yourself to deflect other people’s interruptions of your work. Likewise, make sure your devices are not constantly interrupting you either!Prepare yourself to deflect other people's interruptions of your work. Likewise, make sure your devices are not constantly interrupting you either! Click To Tweet
At the Office: Delay the Conversation
I know this conversation is really important. Is there any way we can talk about it at __(specify day and time)__?
If that doesn’t work, try this one:
I know this is really important, but I promised to call Mr. Big. Can it wait 5 minutes? I’ll come to your desk as soon as I finish.
Now that you know how to delay an untimely conversation, here are 3 conversation exit strategies. The point of all these tips is for YOU to protect your time!!!
You can have several reasons for wanting to exit the conversation, the most common are: a) you’re not prepared because of 432 other things you’re doing; b) you’re really busy with something else or c) you’re exhausted.
Conversation Exits for networking events
Exit Tactic #1: Introduce the person to someone else.
Get their conversation going, then and leave them to continue without you.
Exit Tactic #2: “Please excuse me, I need to make a quick restroom trip. It was lovely to meet you!”
[And…the first sentence of tactic #2 works well in the office.]
Exit Tactic #3: “I’ve had such a time talking to you and I know you want to talk to other people here as well. May I have your business card?”
This exit is great for the office.
“I absolutely must get out this email before [time] and I’m am so far behind, so I need to get cracking on it.”
Just because it’s a good time for the other person to discuss The Issue, doesn’t mean you have to drop everything every time to do so. We’re back to the topic of INTERRUPTIONS.
Likewise, not all conversations are interesting and you have the right to exit out of most conversations.
Protect your time or lose it to everyone else’s whims and fancies.
If you’re put on the spot to give a presentation on something, THIS is my recommendation for those brain freeze moments.