The 30 Hour Work Week Series: Part II

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone at a meeting, networking event, or even on the phone when you realize that it’s going nowhere? It’s the point where you stop actively listening and start thinking about the list of things you have to do and how this conversation is stopping you from doing them.

I’ve had these moments in every phase of my career. As a newbie I didn’t realize what they were, but soon came to understand that they happen, and sometimes you can actually see them coming. If you haven’t experienced this, please email me. I’d like to know where you work and who you work with so I can come join you and learn your mystical methods of valuable conversation.

I don’t think I’ll get any emails because I think meaningless conversations are happening every day, to all sorts of people, in any type of job. I think we feel obligated to sit and listen to people blab on and wait them out because halting them in their destructive path is awkward and may hurt the other person’s feelings. I’d like to break down this barrier a bit and help everyone elegantly disengage without crushing the souls of the blabbers we all know and love (most of the time).

Here are some phrases I’ve started using and have heard others use too:

  • I hear what you’re saying, can we circle back to our goal here?

  • Sorry to interrupt, can we go back to that point we started talking about earlier?

  • I’ve got a hard stop in about 15 minutes, what else do we need to cover before we part ways?

  • It sounds like you have a lot to discuss. I’m short on time today, can we meet again in a week or so?

  • I try to make every minute count, what exactly are you looking for from me?

If things don’t wind down and you’re still stuck, try these:

  • Listen, I’d love to chat but I’ve got a lot to do. Can we schedule some time to restart this conversation?

  • You know [insert name], this has been a really great conversation but I’ve got to run. We’ll talk again soon.

  • I can tell you’re passionate about this and I’d like to give you my full attention. Can we reconnect when I’ve got some free time to really focus on what you’re saying?

And if you’re in Stage 5 Clinger mode, whip these suckers out:

  • [INSERT NAME], you’re not hearing me. I need to end this conversation now.

  • This isn’t a good use of my time or yours. Let’s talk again when we are on the same page.

  • Please. Stop. Talking.

What your friendly neighbourhood blabber may not realize is that your time is valuable, and you need to stand up for it. Don’t let it get snatched away by someone who doesn’t appreciate it, protect and guard it, for it is the key to your success and productivity. It’s worth more than the feelings of a blabber and it can’t speak for itself, so it’s up to you.