Are other people sucking up your time?

girlonredphoneDo you ever have calls with a prospect or team member or client, where they take control of the call and you don’t even get to say what’s on your mind?

Do you find your calls or meetings often go long and take up way more time than you originally scheduled?

Does your day get filled with tasks that other people want you to do, and your income-producing activities don’t happen?

If this is you:

  • Your income suffers, because you’re not spending enough time on your business and income-producing activities.
  • Your mood and energy suffer. You start feeling resentful about the impact other people have on your agenda and your time.  You get pissed off because you gave away your time and energy to other people who don’t value it.
  • You feel righteous anger that the other person is in the wrong, yet you’re not quite sure how to explain that to them, or how to regain control of your time.
  • Because you don’t spend enough time on your personal business, you’re not making the impact that you want, in terms of helping other people through your work.

There’s an outer and an inner reason why other people are having their way in your conversations.

The outer reason: You may not have the communication skills to redirect this person and take charge of the conversation!  We all learned our communication skills within our families.  Is your family a shining example of great communication?  Probably not!

That’s what happened with me.  I come from a rural Midwestern family culture, in which people do not talk about their feelings.  Ever.  In my family, only one person can talk at a time, so I grew up NEVER interrupting anyone.  Did those habits serve me in my career?  No.

There’s also an inner reason that you’re not taking charge in your conversations (even if you have great communication skills).  You may feel you have to do what your conversation partner wants… you have to follow their lead… you have to satisfy them, or there’s going to be a problem – a BG problem!  They won’t like you, they’ll be angry with you.  They’ll be so upset that they’ll end your relationship.  They might leave your team.  If it’s a personal relationship, they might end your friendship or divorce you.

The relationship is at risk unless you do what they want.  This is really strong for people-pleasers and perfectionists.

For both people-pleasers and perfectionists, who you are is less important than what you’re doing.  That means your relationships rest on your actions, not who you are as a person.  When your relationships are all about your actions, then it makes sense that you feel like “Oh I’ve got to please this other person, even when they want something that I REALLY do NOT want to do!”

That can lead to lots of inner tension.  Part of you feels like you HAVE to make the other person happy in order to keep them on your team, as your friend, in your life.  And another part of you is thinking: “I don’t have time to do what they want.  That’s not the highest and best use of my time.  Someone else can do that better.”

How do you take charge of your conversations?  How do you avoid getting boxed into following someone else’s lead and letting them run everything?

The answer is FRAMING.  This is what you can do at the beginning of every conversation.

It’s a way for you to set parameters on your phone calls or in-person meetings, right from the start.

Here’s how I frame my 1:1 meetings with colleagues.

“Suzie, I’m so glad we’re together here for this meeting today. I’m really excited to learn more about you and your business.  Here’s my intention for our meeting.  We have about an hour together.  Let’s spend about 30 minutes on you and your business.  I want to hear how you got into your field and I definitely want to learn who’s your ideal client, and who are good referral partners for you.  Then we’ll spend about 30 min on my business.  I’ll share that same info about my business.  How does that sound?”

In just 4 sentences, I have:

  1. Set a time limit. “We have about an hour together.”
  2. Made it clear that we’re spending equal time talking. “Let’s spend about 30 minutes on you and your business.” This also gives me permission to interrupt if I need to, and say: “I’m sorry – we’re at about the 30 min mark – let’s switch, so you/I can have time to share.”
  3. Set the agenda. “I want to hear how you got into your field and I definitely want to learn who’s your ideal client, and who are good referral partners for you.“
  4. Gotten their agreement on our agenda and schedule. “How does that sound?” They can say “Great!” or “There’s one other thing I want to talk about.”

Using this strategy at the start of your conversations/meetings lets you frame the time, topic and get their buy-in.  That all lets you follow your agenda and break into the conversation if necessary to come back to that overall timeline/agenda that you two agreed on at the beginning.

When you frame your conversations, they will go in a much different direction.

  • They’ll be shorter vs. running long
  • They’ll be more direct, because you’ll stick to an agenda
  • You’ll feel better, because you’re respecting your schedule.
  • Typically your conversation partner will be happier, because they like it when someone has a clear sense of the agenda.

CALL TO ACTION

If this is you, you have calls and meetings with people and you feel like they’re managing the call/meeting and their needs are being met but not yours,

If you feel other people’s tasks and priorities are sucking up most of your time

If your income-producing activities are being neglected,

Then I invite you to join my upcoming teleclass Releasing the 3 Ps: Perfectionism, People-pleasing and Procrastination at 4/12 11am ET.  Look for an email next week with the registration information.  If you like Facebook, please Friend me and you’ll receive more information that way.

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