A theme emerged for me this week as I listened to my third client complain about last-minute meetings, putting out fires, dealing with difficult people, and out of control work hours. My question: What are you teaching others?
The fact is that we teach others how to behave around us and how to treat us. This includes colleagues, clients, and even family members and friends. When we react to a situation by dropping everything, drafting a reactive e-mail with an urgency red exclamation symbol, and monitoring our e-mail for the expected reply within 10 minutes, we are teaching others to expect that from us in the future. One client expressed it this way, “I need to stop treating a text as a 911 and an e-mail as something that needs an immediate response within the hour.” Exactly!
Be a good teacher, and teach others what they can expect from you. Here are some teaching points:
- Be ruthless with your calendar. Protect your time. If you let people walk all over your calendar, then that’s what they will continue to do.
- Spell it out. Tell others what you can do and when you can do it. Don’t leave anything to chance, be specific, and communicate clearly so that expectations are met.
- Set standards that you can live with. Determine a reasonable and realistic response time frame for e-mails and text messages. If necessary, use an autoresponder that lets people know when they can expect a response from you. Teach them.
Not only does this help you by making your life more responsive instead of reactive, but it might just give them an example to follow so they can set new standards for themselves!
Have you set any new standards lately that have helped you in this area? Please share.
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