How to Manage an Interruption without Being Rude


14944868_sWorking in a team can be incredibly productive. However, due to the amount of interruptions that can occur from other team members, your productivity can take a dive quickly. After doing hundreds of executive coaching hours with professionals in large corporations, I’ve noticed that one of the biggest productivity killers is being interrupted by other people.

Many people feel like they get interrupted and don’t want to be rude, so end up taking on the task instead of politely asking the person to either come back later or give the task to someone else.

So the question is, how do you politely say to someone who is interrupting you that now is not a good time?

Here is a three-step formula that you can follow:

1. Thank
“Thanks, Jack, for thinking of me.”

2. Task
“I’m currently working on an important task that I need to focus on.”

3. Time
“Can I drop by at [insert appropriate time] later on today?” Or, “Please come back in about an hour.”

Use this three-step formula that I call the 3 T’s — thank the person, talk about your task, give them a time — to structure an appropriate way of saying no to an interruption to enable you to get more done.




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  • Tania
    Posted at 23:14h, 01 April Reply

    Love these short bits of advice Colin. Thank you!

  • Lauren Agnew
    Posted at 12:46h, 29 May Reply

    That’s so true Colin. Most important lesson and yet completely undermined is that of setting boundaries, something I have had to learn the hard way in many situations. Great advice.

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