Many times we ask others for information, ask questions, or assign tasks/projects to be completed only to be disappointed when we don’t receive a timely answer or the tasks/projects aren’t completed on time. Maybe it was your fault. If you had been more specific, maybe that wouldn’t have happened. Here is a suggestion:
The four part model to influence others: Instead of saying you want something “ASAP” when you make your next request, try this:
- Say to them, “Could you please…” (to induce cooperation by using the right tone, then engaging them with an open-ended question).
- Make your request specific (to avoid questions).
- Give a specific deadline (to help them prioritize your request).
- Mention the consequences if they don’t meet your deadline. (This tells them why your deadline is so important.)
You could also add, “Let me know either way” between step one and two to let them know you are looking for a yes or no followed by a specific time or date by which your request could be completed.
Successful people do one thing at a time: Most people try to do several things at once. Studies show that successful people do only one thing at a time. They realize it will take them less time this way instead of jumping around between tasks. They are able to concentrate better, do the job in less time, and make fewer errors. That is why they often put off interruptions long enough to finish what they’re working on.
Note: If you have to give up what you’re currently working on to work on the new task or request, be sure you create a “mental bridge” back to what you were working on when the interruption occurred. Make some notes or reminders about what you were thinking about at the time of the interruption and be sure you put it back on your list before you jump to the new task.
When negotiating requests, write down the task and deadline: Your word is your bond. Write down their request immediately and circle the deadline, so you don’t forget to deliver on time or early.
Know what’s important to your leader: That should help you prioritize, if you cannot decide by evaluating tasks in terms of goals. It’s faster and more accurate to ask your leader questions and be 100 percent right than to guess and be wrong. Show your boss and others what you already have on your list.
Your boss may delegate the task to someone else. If you are giving tasks to your direct reports, be sure to ask to see their Master Lists, so you can try to spread the work more evenly among all your direct reports.
“The number one reason why people don’t prioritize correctly is that they’re trying to prioritize without the necessary information—why it’s important and what the deadline is.”