Communication Tips For The Busy Professional

Have you called someone to just relay some information and was drawn into a relatively long conversation talking about the weather, the home team, political and current events, their home life, etc? The call took you completely off track of the subject matter you wanted to relay and you felt it would be rude to interrupt even though you had an insurmountable list of things to do. Here is a short list of three things you can do to save some time and keep yourself from being held captive in unnecessary conversation.

Announce time constraint.

When starting a conversation, you can open with something like, “Tom, I only have a minute and I wanted to get back to you about……” By warning most people in advance that you don’t have much time to spend with them, they generally will catch the subtle hint and not keep you with idle chit-chat. By announcing your time constraint, you will be able to exit the phone conversation easily.

Use voicemail.

When relaying information that doesn’t really require the immediate input from the other person, why not call their voicemail directly or if you reach their secretary ask to be put through to voicemail. This will allow you to offer up your complete thoughts without any interruption, objection or comment from the other party. Many times we want to relay just a small detail and just leaving a quick message will do. You can also just leave a small message with the secretary or telephone receptionist.

Write an email.

Just like leaving a voicemail message, you can write out your thoughts and have an accurate record of your communication. And also like a voicemail message, you can get out the complete thought without interruption. One of the wonderful traits of email is that you can write an email at any hour you choose and are not restricted to regular working hours.

Even as simple as these tips are, many of us will still find ourselves trapped in conversations that seemingly have no end when we can least afford the time. In today’s ever increasingly busy world, taking advantage of any time savings can increase our productivity.

(originally published 8/13/2000)

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