Finding time to do your most rewarding work? What happens when strong personalities make demands on you?
Your colleagues may regularly confront you with ‘surprise’ deadlines or crises. If you are not careful, they can easily sabotage your plans for your time.
How do you withstand others’ crises without endangering your job and your professional relationships?
7 Proven Tips to Stay on Track, Strengthen Relationships and Save Time
- Refuse to be swept along by others’ urgency.
Urgency is a key weapon of strong personalities. Do not make their crisis your crisis. By taking time to carefully consider your response, you demonstrate that you retain full responsibility for yourself.
- Observe and Evaluate.
Examine your level of responsibility for the problem, and your stake in the outcome. With this overview, you can decide how much time to devote, if any, to solving their problem!
- Use active listening to transfer the energy from them to you.
By re-stating their predicament in your own words, you re-frame the incident, and also:
- Lower the drama of the moment. You defuse time urgency by summarizing the situation calmly, in accurate but less highly charged terms.
- Affirm that you understand them. When others feel heard, they instinctively relax and take more time to listen to your ideas.
- Broaden the perspective.
Strategizing from multiple vantage points reduces the tunnel vision that urgency promotes. Identify areas of consensus. You can empathize while retaining a balanced view.
- Offer the choices that align with your time frame.
Succeed through identifying everyone’s baseline needs and negotiate accordingly. Clearly state your parameters, so that your own projects remain on schedule.
- Allow others their responses.
This may be the hardest part for you. Cultivate calmness so you can accept others’ dissatisfaction without defensiveness. This demonstrates you respect their right to their feelings and that your time priorities don’t require their approval.
- Remain focused on your areas of control.
Take the time to clarify your end of relationships. Specify what you feel comfortable doing, and the amount of time you are willing to spend doing it. By being clear, you encourage open communication that can lead to genuine progress.
Assimilating this in advance is excellent preparation. Your relationships are often unspoken contracts. As you change your part, prepare yourself for other aspects of interactions to shift. For example, as you become less available at the last-minute, others may be asked to help. Or you may be called upon to coordinate schedules and priorities more closely with colleagues. This might shake up your image of yourself as indispensable, or your image of others as ‘impossible’.
Ultimately, with skillful negotiating, you benefit by enjoying more productive, crisis-free time. How will you build on your success by developing still more rewarding methods for finding time?© Copyright 2009 Paula Eder, Ph.D.