"This Will Only Take A Minute..."
Expectations management is everything in business.
If you’re going to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing it, don’t say you will. That’s pretty clear cut and I think we’ll all agree with that.
The problem arises when we get comfortable in the grey areas, at the edges of “well, this isn’t really a big deal”. We brush off - consciously or otherwise - these ‘little’ things.
Problem is, though, that it all translates. Expectations - about who we are, what we stand for, what we do, and hence what we can expect of each other - are set in the little things as much as in the big things.
Take, for example, the phrase, “This will only take a minute.”
Sometimes, it’s a quick question. Done and dusted. But many times, it’s not - instead, it’s the thin end of the wedge, where the minute becomes five, then ten, then more. It may not seem like much to the requestor but it’s a re-prioritization of the time of the ‘requestee’. Re-prioritization that is unexpected and, often, unwelcome.
Once in a while, it’s not an issue. But if it’s repeated enough, then you know what to expect when that person calls or peeks their head through your door. It adds up. Trust me, you don’t want to be that person.
Better to be upfront.
I need fifteen minutes.
Can we set aside some time - this might take a while.
When can we chat, this is a good thirty minute conversation.
Colleagues, direct reports and your bosses deserve better. Clients absolutely do, and they have the option of simply not answering your call.
Along with my distaste for endless, back to back meetings, this is another pet peeve of mine.
(Am I overstating things? Maybe I am. Maybe I’m not. Maybe, I’ve been guilty of this myself. But I’m trying, Ringo, I’m trying real hard...)
For all our sakes, don’t ask for a minute. Unless you mean it. Please.