Words, Ideas, Stuff
Some ideas and thoughts, captured with the view to help you.
This little question popped up on the Twitter feed this weekend …
And got the cogs turning. There were the usual responses in the feed about hugging loved ones, writing stuff down, flossing, smiling, sending good vibes to others etc (how many of these are real and how any are ‘aspirational’ and people want to be seen that one? Ah, that’s a whole ‘nother post there!).
Here’s the one I came up with. One little gem that I think was taught in a sales course about 20 years ago and what a difference it’s made.
“Ask to clarify what they mean by 'urgent' (and that's whoever 'they' are and whatever the context is). It's almost never the same as what you’re expecting, and almost never 'this instant'.”
Getting clear on everyone’s expectations also helps with that whole ‘under promise, over deliver’ mission, in a way that doesn’t create undue stress for you too. By getting clear on what someone’s expectations are instead of assuming, you have the freedom to share your reality too and agree on the timing, so both parties are happy. Then it’s over to you to meet that timeline, or beat it. Always easier to do with a week of space to get it done rather than the next five minutes.
Of course some tasks will need to be done ‘now, now*’, but many don’t and by doing them straight away we’re deciding whatever that is, is more urgent and more important than other things we’re doing. Which isn’t always the case and when it is, let’s consciously choose that.
I can clearly recall a time when I was managing one of the company’s top 100 client and they called, with an urgent request. They’re important, they say its urgent, and as the Head of Procurement outlined what they needed, I was trying to listen but really, I was calculating how to make it happen by 5 pm that same day.
Drop everything, cancel meetings, focus only on this, deliver everything they’ve asked etc etc. I’d mapped that plan, noted down their needs, read back to him to clarify it. Then … I asked the question “So we’re on the same page, when you say ‘urgent’ what do you mean by this time wise?”.
His response “Within the next two weeks”. Wow. We really were on two different pages about what urgent meant in this context. It would have been foolish of me to switch to thinking urgent always means ‘in the next two weeks’ as every context is different, where as the real takeout here is to check. Just ask the question. We love a happy ending and you can probably guess that in this situation, I was able to complete the actions, double check and give really accurate insight, add some extra value and deliver what they needed about three days ahead of their expected timeline, all while managing to do all the other important things on that week.
It’s not something I’ve always remembered to do but it’s one that I try to and really encourage you all to give it a go, see if it helps create or protect some space in your days too.