Merge's Blog

Interruptions caused by drop-in visitors at work? Here’s how you manage them

interruptionsOne of the most common reasons people like working out of a home office is that they can focus and concentrate, uninterrupted by those pesky drop-in visitors who just have “a quick question”.  You likely know these people well, probably because their definition of “quick” often doesn’t match yours!  But it is possible to proactively and assertively deal with interruptions without having to resort to “working from home”.  Here are three specific actions you can take to manage your unanticipated and distracting guests, and keep your interruptions to a minimum.

Three actions you can take to manage drop-in interruptions

One – think ahead – take control of your guest chair! Either move it out of your workspace, and bring it back only if you when you want someone to sit and discuss something with you.  Or if that’s not practical, try putting a pile of books (or other suitable objects) on it.

Two – stand up when they come to you, and say “I have five (or however many) minutes, how can I help you”? Stay standing during the entire conversation.

Three – if the first two tips don’t work, try the well-tested “elbow technique”. Gently put your hand under the person’s elbow, and while talking to him or her, casually walk him back to his desk or workspace. While this may sound extreme to some of you, don’t discount this technique unless you try it! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by its effectiveness.

Remember that these practical tips to manage interruptions work because they follow the fundamental rules of assertive communication – they are inherently respectful and proactive!

So I’d love to know what you think of my ideas.  Crazy?  Or perhaps you’ve tried them and they work?!  Do you have other approaches to manage these kinds of interruptions?  We’d all love to know.  Please share your thoughts by adding a comment below.

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