Time Management: Getting People Out of Your Office Quickly

Getting People Out of Your Office Quickly


1. Always choose to visit a colleague, if given a choice.
When scheduling a meeting, you’ll have to decide where to hold the conversation: your office or mine? During a face-to-face conversation, it’s always better to go to them.

Why? You can leave! If someone’s in your office in your comfortable guest chair, “feet up,” so to speak, it’s much harder to get them out of your office than to walk yourself out of their office.

2. Be honest.
If they say, “Got a minute?” and you don’t, you can say, “Actually, I have my back up against the wall right now on a deadline. If it’s okay with you, can I call you back at 3:00?” And actually let them see you type the appointment in your calendar. They walk out feeling like I have an appointment! It lets them feel that they’ve been heard, but you didn’t take on the interruption right then.

3. Deflect low priority interruptions with alternate scheduling.
In our quest to be helpful and to provide great customer service to our coworkers, we are always willing to jump in and complete whatever is asked us of, regardless of what else is on our plates.
You can’t always do things in the order they appear. Some things aren’t that important right now. It’s okay to say, “That meeting’s in three weeks. Would it be okay if we connected the week prior?” By deflecting requests that aren’t mission-critical at the moment, you keep your attention focused on the critical things.

4. Use verbal tactics and body language.
When someone is in your office, do you ever have a problem getting them to leave? They’re still there chatting away and can’t take a hint. Try these verbal tactics.
Sometimes it helps by talking in past tense, such as, “It was nice having talked with you.” Or tou can try to summarize your conversation and the action items. You can even try some body language cues like turning back to email or shuffling papers. But what if the visitor still doesn’t get it?

5. You’re going to have to be assertive.
There comes a point when you can’t get someone to leave your office, you need to smile pleasantly, and say, “You’re going to have to excuse me now.” And keep smiling and don’t make excuses. There is nothing wrong with communicating, “I need to get back to work.” Because sometimes, honestly, people don’t get it. They will say, “Oh! Sorry!” and jump up and walk out. Just smile and wave.

6. Put a clock strategically behind you on the back wall.
When you are talking with a visitor, you can casually turn around and glance at the clock on the wall behind you. It’s perceived as rude to look at your watch, but when you quickly turn and glance at the clock on the wall, guess where they look? It’s a subtle, psychological cue that says, “Okay, we are on a deadline here. I think we need to get moving.”

7. Practice the “slow stroll.”
If the person still doesn’t get it, you could actually get up and walk out of your own office. Have you ever tried this? It really works! Keep a pile of copying on the side of your desk or something that needs to be delivered.

If the person does not stop talking, get up, tap them on the shoulder, say, “Come with me while I make these copies” or “Come with while I get a cup of coffee,” and walk right out of your office. Guess what? They will follow you! Hey, if they’re going to talk, you may as well get something done.

8. Get creative with your chairs.
Several people have told me they keep a pile of papers or folders in their guest chair. When people walk in, there is nowhere to sit, so they stay standing. Because they are standing, they can’t get comfortable. If they are not comfortable, they will leave.

If you want someone to sit down, you can actually move the pile of paper and offer them a seat. But, if not, hopefully they’ll get out sooner.

To find out more about The Productivity Pro®, Inc. or have Laura Stack speak at an upcoming meeting or event, please visit at www.theproductivitypro.com.
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© 2010 Laura Stack. All Rights Reserved.