Respecting Others’ Time by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

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In General
Oct 1st, 2013
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Respecting others' timeProductivity and good manners often go hand in hand, and we all strive to be productive and to be viewed as being polite. Unfortunately, when we are less than productive, we often throw our good manners out the window. I’m reminded of a quote: “Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” Notice that most of these tips are simply issues of respect (good manners).

  1. Ask other people for permission to intrude on their time and space.
  2. When you call someone on the phone, say, “Good time? Bad time?” If they say “Well…” they mean it’s a bad time.
  3. Tell folks up front how long you think a meeting, appointment, or task is going to take…and ask whether that will work for them. Be as accurate as possible in estimating these amounts of time.
  4. Pick up on cues when you are in someone’s office, home, or other space that give you the message that you are there at an inconvenient time. Tell the person that you’ve noticed you’re interrupting and that you’ll come back at another time. Leave immediately.
  5. Listen for verbal cues when you are on the phone that you might have called at an inconvenient time, or that the call has gone on too long. Use the phrase “Well, it’s back to work for me!” and conclude promptly.
  6. Avoid sending emails that are of no value or consequence. Especially avoid “bounce back” or “ping pong” emails (thanking them for thanking you, etc.).
  7. Negotiate deadlines for tasks that have been delegated. Don’t interrupt your employee’s productivity by asking for constant feedback on the task (unless that was part of the negotiation).
  8. Plan well so that you are not asking for things at the last minute, whenever possible. If you must ask for something at the last minute, announce that the deadline on another task will be extended.
  9. Don’t interrupt others who are talking as if your issue is more important than theirs. If it is, then at least apologize.
  10. Teach others to respect your time, too.  We’re all more polite…when we’re all more polite.  We all respect boundaries better when…we all establish and respect boundaries.

Use this article as a focus point for an all-office meeting. See if there are ways to improve everyone’s respect for time. This will increase everyone’s productivity.

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