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Chapter 14. Interruptions and meetings > Minimize interruptions from visitors

Minimize interruptions from visitors

Even the well-planned day is not exempt from interruptions from visitors. People dropping by or in the neighborhood might often seat themselves in your office and stay for an interminable amount of time. If you find unexpected visitors knocking at your door, follow these guidelines to minimize these interruptions:

  • Screen your visitors. If you work for a larger organization, a secretary or receptionist is probably already present to check in visitors. If there are no checkpoints that visitors have to go through before walking straight into your office, you should consider hiring a secretary or receptionist. In smaller organizations, employing a secretary or receptionist might not be an option. If you must screen your own visitors, you should minimize the visitors’ interruptions by immediately asking, “What can I help you with today?”

  • Meet the visitor outside the office. Meeting with your visitor in a neutral place provides you with more control over the visit and how long it lasts. It’s often difficult to make someone leave your office, so needing to return to your office is a convenient excuse for ending a visit.

  • Stand while talking. The less comfortable you are, the less time you’ll spend visiting. Remember that if you are not going to offer your visitor a seat, you should also remain standing.

  • Set a time limit for the visit. If you are comfortable with meeting your visitor, set a time limit to the visit. Begin the conversation by letting your visitor know how much time you can spend with him or her. Be sure to look at your watch when you mention how much time you have so that you are sure to end the visit on time. Also, be sure that you specify a certain number of minutes, such as ten or fifteen, instead of saying that you have a “few” or a “couple” of minutes.

  • Develop rescue signals. You might want to develop a rescue plan with one of your co-workers. When your rescue partner is aware of your interruption, he or she might interrupt the visit after a predetermined amount of time to remind you of a pressing item that demands your immediate attention. This will allow you to excuse yourself from the visit and return to work.



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