In the previous article we saw that, whether it’s a family, organizational, sales, or other important matter, when you are about to take part in an important conversation, be sure that all parties involved have the time and willingness to participate.
If you don’t, then the most likely result is that you either won’t have their undivided attention regarding the issue or, when they need to go, they will, and the situation will be left unresolved. And, picking up the conversation exactly where you left off and with the same momentum is much easier said than done, if it ever resumes at all.
Important: Before the conversation or meeting ever begins, be sure all parties are committed to the process, and for the amount of time it has been agreed upon.
Gently create agreement for sufficient time. How?
1. Ask for it. If this is a family or group, you might say, “I’d like for us to discuss _______ and I believe it’s going to take up to 45 minutes. Do you have 45 minutes that you can dedicate without feeling pressed for time?”
If it’s a boss, it might be, “Ms. Thomas, I need to discuss an important issue. Could we take about 17 minutes? That’s about how much time I believe we’ll need.” (Hint: the more specific the number you use, the greater the chances are for agreement. 17 minutes is actually even better than 15 because, while 15 can appear to be a number picked out of thin air, 17 sounds as though every minute has been reasoned out and has a purpose.)
2. Be able to work around a curve ball. Ms. Thomas says, “I really only have a couple minutes until my next meeting, but please go ahead. I’m sure I’ll be able to help with whatever the problem might be.”
Here’s where you need to both use the right words, and say them in the correct way.
You: I appreciate that, Ms. Thomas. Thank you so much. Actually, I know I’ll need about 15-17 minutes. Could we re-schedule for when you have a bit more time?
Ms. Thomas: Really, I’d prefer we discuss it now. I’m sure it’ll be okay.
You: I appreciate that so much. This is something that’s really more than a two-minute conversation, though, and the last thing I want to do is waste two minutes of your time when I know that won’t be enough. If we could, may I schedule a 17-minute block with your admin, Pat?
Yes, we used the word “I’ several times. In this case, it’s important to utilize an I Message because you want to take the responsibility for needing more time as opposed to putting it on them with a “You Message” which could make them feel defensive and be more inclined to insist on a “now” conversation.
Key: Just like when having to graciously say “no” to a request, it’s vital to maintain inner strength and to respond in a way that communicates you are honoring that person, even though you are not giving in to them.
Use the same basic principle as the above whenever you need to make sure there is enough time for the conversation to be an effective one. Just remember that if you allow yourself to get sucked in to a conversation when the proper amount of time has not been allocated for its success, you might as well not even bother. The results will most likely be the same anyway.
Understanding that will help you to remain strong yet tactful in order to obtain the agreement of time you need.