Strategy # 8: Can we continue this conversation later?

another interruptionHave you ever been in the middle of a critical deadline when someone stops by to chat? Or racing to your next meeting and you hear, “Do you have a minute?” as your energy drains at the thought of yet another unexpected conversation. It’s difficult to say anything other than “sure” when you really want to scream, “No, can’t you see I’m busy!” When challenged with how to respond to interruptions, clients often refer to an open door policy - meaning immediate availability, no matter what. The all or nothing thinking that says, there is no other choice than to stop what I’m doing and handle the situation. Feeling no choice in the matter shuts down brain processing and sometimes even the ability to respond with anything other than the habitual “sure.”

How do you excuse yourself from the interruption while maintaining your relationship and rapport with the individual? You might say: “I’d like to continue this conversation, and right now isn’t going to work. When are you next available to talk?” Think about the typical interruptions in your day, and consider a few variations of “Can we continue this conversation later?” You might practice these with trusted colleagues or a coach so you’re prepared to respond in a way that supports positive relationships and rapport and sets the tone for mutual respect instead of frustration.

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Strategy #8 “Can we continue this conversation later?”