Effective time management at work is important if you want to be an outstanding performer and get promoted. One of the biggest obstacles to effective time management can be your chatty coworkers! If socializers at work are wasting your time and energy, this excellent article by Rodger Constandse will show you how to tactfully handle those unwelcome interruptions.
Interruptions are a normal part of work life, especially if you are a smart and talented worker or manager. It's only natural for your colleagues and staff to want to talk to you if you can help them with their work.
Whether you answer difficult questions, provide guidance, or point people in the right direction, helping others can be a valuable service to your team and your company.
That being said, unexpected interruptions can also be a tremendous drain and time waster. The key to handle interruptions effectively is to distinguish the important interruptions from the true time wasters and ensure that you are making the best use of your time in each case.
You should also take active steps to reduce the number and frequency of unexpected interruptions, particularly the ones that end up wasting your time, without sacrificing your team's productivity in the process.
In this article, I'll give you a few practical tips for dealing with and reducing unexpected interruptions from habitual socializers.
Some of your frequent drop-ins or telephone calls may be habitual socializers that are not interested in your help or guidance, and they don't really want to get to know you better either, but are merely looking for an excuse to procrastinate or pass some time.
If you have to deal with this type of drop-in visitor on a regular basis, you may need to reserve a special strategy for managing their interruptions.
Instead of inviting them in with friendly question, you may need to use a less inviting prompt to discourage the interruption unless it is truly important.
Visitor: "Got a minute?"
You: "Actually, I'm in the middle of something right now. Can this wait?"
You: "I'm really busy right now, is it something urgent?"
The majority of habitual socializers will realize you don't have any interest in socializing at that moment and try to find someone else to talk to. If they do have something legitimate to discuss they will say so and you can then decide how to proceed.
You should reserve this tactic only for people that you've identified as habitual socializers through repeated patterns of abuse. The rest of your colleagues and staff deserve the benefit of the doubt.
This does not mean that you should eliminate all socializing, because it is an important part of effective team building. However, you do have the right to decide when you want to socialize and when you want to work. Like everything else, having a balance is the key.
Set aside some time for socializing with your colleagues, but do it in a way that represents a win-win for everyone.
Here are some other ideas for handling interruptions from habitual socializers effectively and tactfully:
1. Make it clear that your workspace is for working
When a habitual socializer drops by, step out to speak to him or her if at all possible. This will send the message that things need to be kept short and sweet.
2. Stand when speaking to the visitor
When you go to someone's office on business, what is the first thing that person usually asks you to do? Sit down, of course. The visitor will feel much more comfortable when they are at the same eye level with you, rather than "talking down" to you. Sitting down allows a person to feel more relaxed and not to feel rushed.
Standing up will "take the pressure" off and make the visitor feel more comfortable without having to sit down.
3. Nip repeat social visits in the bud
If there is one certain person who keeps coming by "just to talk" for extended periods of time when you are busy trying to work, you may need to use a different tactic. Some people are more persistent than others and just don't get it. You may have to just talk to them, set some boundaries, and ask them to respect them.
Make it clear that while you value your relationship with them, you'd rather socialize at a different time. Offer to have a chat with them during lunch, or during a pre-arranged coffee break.
4. Make time for business drop-ins
When it is a client who is dropping in unexpectedly, you will probably want to make time for him or her if at all possible. Many times when clients come by unexpectedly, it is because they do not feel that what they need is important or time-consuming enough to warrant an appointment. If the request will only take a minute or two of your time, complying will bolster your relationship with the client.
If what the client wants is going to take up more time than you can afford to lose, or they start abusing your time, politely ask him or her to come back later or make an appointment. Most people won't mind doing so.
Rodger Constandse is the founder of Goals to Action (http://www.GoalsToAction.com), a website that helps visitors reach their full potential and connect their daily actions to their mission, vision, and goals. Effective time management helps you take control of your time, get things done, and truly enjoy everything that life has to offer.
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