Karen Meager and John McLachlan, co-founders of Monkey Puzzle Training, share their insights into dealing with time wasters, without being rude.
Every one of us knows someone who falls into the category of ‘space invaders and time suckers’: those people who take up and waste your time or are always making themselves involved in others’ business. Handling people like this takes skill and practice in nurturing healthy boundaries in three areas – physical, mental and emotional. Some people have established boundaries that are too restrictive, and end up repelling people, while others are far too lenient and end up being taken advantage of by others, who see no problem with wiggling into another’s personal space. Once you notice that you need to readjust your boundaries in whichever direction, you are more able to ensure people treat you appropriately. Here are some tips for reinforcing your boundaries.
Familiarise yourself with your boundaries
It is very common for people to not really know where their boundaries lie or should lie. It is often only when these boundaries are breached by another person that you come to recognise where you draw the line. So, consider these sorts of times, and contemplate on the details: what do you consider a good use of your time? What do you deem appropriate from others? How much lenience is shown to particular people, and is this an approach you are comfortable with? Form some clear assertions about what sorts of behaviour you find appropriate.
Develop behavioural cues
When you have given thought to your boundaries and the sorts of situations that raise them, you can begin to modify the ways in which you react to them, helping you to assert your position when faced with adversity. Consider the following behavioural cues:
› Take a step towards someone who is showing you aggression or hostility to reaffirm your position and say to them that you are not going to be taken advantage of.
› Use dismissive hand gestures to signal when you are finished with a negative conversation.
› Settle on a tone of voice or set of phrases that assert your position and indicate that you are through with a particular conversation.
By developing consistent behavioural cues, those around you will soon begin to recognise them and their meaning, and you will be able to communicate with them on a much more unconscious level, minimising the need for you to assert yourself verbally.
Consider your actions more deeply. If you are at your desk and speaking to someone, would you answer a ringing phone? The underlying consensus is that as humans we move with priority, so by answering a phone in this situation, we are saying to the other person that this incoming call takes precedence over them. Is this the sort of message you are trying to convey? This is not a yes or no question, but more intended to get you thinking about the messages you give off through your behaviours.
It is important among all this to maintain respectful relationships with others, even if you feel they are compromising your boundaries. This is where tone, words and body language play a part. Finding ways to succinctly express your feelings without going into over-explanation mode is essential to forming healthier working relationships, as well as maximise your productivity.
This article was originally featured in The Informer. To read the full magazine, please click here.