Unexpected chats

In my coaching practice, we talk a lot about time – and you have probably figured that out, because I often write about time here. Time management, where time goes, prioritizing time, organizing time.   

And when we start to look at how we spend our time during our work day – especially if we are managing people – something that comes up is dealing with the unexpected. Specifically, people stopping by to chat about something.

Being available to your team, your people being comfortable to come and chat with you, run ideas by you, ask questions is really important. And when they do that, you need to be fully present, to give them your full attention so that they feel heard, and that you can give them the answers or advice or suggestions that they are looking for.

But it’s challenging to be fully present when there are a million other things swirling in your head. The email that you were just reading, or the meeting you are about to go into or all the things you need to get done today. It can be hard to shut that all off and drop into the moment when the chat is unexpected.

So, today I want to share a little script for you. Experiment with the script and see if you find it helpful in managing your time, and dropping into the present when accommodating unexpected chats with your people. 

The opening: 
Someone comes to your desk and seems to have a question or want a chat. Before launching into the answer or the conversation, try sharing:
I have about xx minutes to chat right now. Do you think that’s enough time? If not let’s schedule a time for us to chat. I want to be fully present with you. 

The conversation: 
When it comes time to have the conversation, you are responsible for keeping time. So if you agreed to 10 minutes, then you need to keep the conversation to 10 minutes. Other than keeping time, you now need to be fully present. No emails, phone calls or anything else. And because you have carved out the space for the chat, you might find you have more space to be present. 

The ending: 
About three quarters of the way into the allocated time, it is time to start rounding the conversation up. The chat might be ready or end or it might need more time. Try sharing:
I wanted to let you know that we have about 5 minutes left. Are you feeling complete or should we schedule a time to continue this conversation?
And if another chat needs to be scheduled, set a time now.

Three steps to managing time and being present when dealing with the unexpected chat. 

And remember, you can also model this to your people. When you have an unexpected question, or need to have an unexpected chat with your people, you can start by saying do you have xxxx minutes to chat about xxxx.  This might help give them the space to be fully present or give the permission to schedule a time for the conversation when they know they can be present.

Try this experiment and let me know how you go. Is it helpful? And what happens when you model the script when you have an unexpected question for your team? I can’t wait to hear. 

Until next week,
H