Statements to Increase Productivity and Integrity by Meggin McIntosh, PhD

By meggin@meggin.com
Mar 16th, 2014
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A number of statements and phrases are worth remembering in your quest to be more productive as a faculty member. Consider these ten (and in each case, after you make the statement – stop talking). These aren’t questions. They are statements:

  1. ‘No, but thanks for asking.’  This is one you will need to employ often since you will be asked to do more things than you could possibly get done even if you wanted to get them all done.
  2. ‘Not now.’  This is very different from “No,” so be sure to be circumspect about when you use this one vs. the previous suggestion. You use this one when you would like to reconsider this request at another time. It’s useful to have this one handy when you are pre-tenure, when you are getting ready to go up for promotion to the next level, when you are writing a book, and/or when you are under deadline for a major grant, etc.
  3. ‘Let me get back to you after I’ve checked on a few things.’ This is an EXCELLENT (and has become my standard) response to requests. You want your “yesses” to be yesses but you can’t know for sure whether it’s “Yes,” until you have looked at your calendar, talked to your partner, checked in with your chair, or any other places/people you need to check in with.
  4. ‘I am busy right now, but let’s schedule a time to meet or to talk by phone.’ Urgent does not equal important, as Stephen Covey helped us to understand.
  5. ‘Let me verify some details with you about this project, request, or meeting.’ This is smart to use in so many different situations. Too often we agree (or reject) something without knowing all the details. If the person doesn’t know the answers, let him/her find out.
  6. ‘I want to clarify my conditions, parameters, and/or constraints, so that we are both in agreement.’ Do not assume that the other person knows what your conditions and constraints are. Also, saying them out loud helps you get clearer.
  7. ‘I am not the right person for this, and here is a suggestion of who might be.’ It’s always helpful to give the name of someone else or the proper agency if you are NOT the right person and there is someone else who would be.
  8. ‘I cannot agree to the whole task, but I can agree to take on one part.’ This is a partial “yes” answer and works great!
  9. ‘No, I simply can’t say ‘Yes’.’ (This is my personal favorite).
  10. ‘I can easily say ‘Yes’ to this because I know exactly what it entails.’ You are reinforcing WHY you are saying yes.

Say one or more of these in the next day or so (maybe even today!) and see what happens. Be clear on your intent to be more productive.

Note: If you need a reminder on these, just print out or make an extra copy of this page to display somewhere so you can see it when you need it.

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