My New Book on Amazon: “Business and Baseball”

Business_and_Baseball_Web_My new Kindle book, Business and Baseball, just opened up on Amazon.

About the book:

“Play ball!”

Baseball… America’s favorite pastime. Though there is much dispute about who actually “invented” baseball, what is undeniable is that this great game has given us a metaphor both for business, and, in many cases, life.

Many famous baseball quotes are now business and baseball quotes in both our day to day conversation, and our business communication.

We all know people whose business presentation, “Hit it out of the park.”

Of course, “You can’t win ‘em all!”

And all the famous Yogi Berra quotes that regularly add sparkle, wit, and clarity to our personal and business conversations: “It’s déjà vu all over again,” and “We were over-whelming underdogs,” or, “The other teams could make trouble for us if they win,” and, “Slump? I ain’t in no slump — I just ain’t hittin’.”

Saul Steinberg also reminds us that, “Baseball is an allegorical play about America, a poetic, complex, and subtle play of courage, fear, good luck, mistakes, patience about fate, and sober self-esteem.” Doesn’t this sound a lot like our day in and day out experiences as entrepreneurs and small business owners?

This easy, entertaining, and motivational small business philosophy book takes the small business owner and entrepreneur on a metaphorical ten inning journey (free baseball! [find out about free baseball in the book]) with business and baseball quotes and business lessons, looking at what we can learn from life on the baseball diamond to help us make our businesses work better.

This is an Amazon Kindle book not an actual printed volume, so you need a Kindle to read it… but  if you are not yet a Kindle owner, Amazon also has reader apps for Smart Phones, PCs, and Macs, etc., so you will easily be able to read it.

For all of you who read Business and Baseball, I certainly would appreciate an Amazon review. For all of you who are kind enough to review the book, post a comment here with a link to the review on Amazon, and, of course, a link to your own site… we all win.

Thanks in advance to all who read the book and review it, and… enjoy the game!

DanSig-02


Online Market Research – The Top Five Methods

Survey_CheckMarkAs marketers, especially in small offices, the Internet is a blessing for us. It has never been easier to get key information about consumers, our potential customers, and how they think. Before, we needed expensive market research firms and businesses that relied on costly, time-consuming research like focus groups, surveys, etc. Online research lets us bypass much of that.

Whenever we start a marketing campaign, the first, and most basic step, is to gather relevant keywords using Google KeyWord Tool, WordTracker, and other online tools. Keywords certainly are essential but they don’t get us much hard data about our target audience other than what they’re looking for online. So supplement your keyword research with these top five other methods for market research online.

Online Surveys

Everyone likes surveys! And today, with easy online tools like SurveyMonkey and similar tools, we can easily and inexpensively create a list of questions to quickly discover valuable information from and about our audience and customers. Much less intrusive than standing in the shopping mall harassing passers-by. These tools automate almost everything for us, tallying and reporting the results in a meaningful manner. Most people enjoy online surveys so they can remain totally anonymous – but offering a reward is a better way to get wider participation, and we legitimately collect email addresses when respondents register for the reward. (Email Marketing and Online Surveys by Constant Contact make it easy to connect with your customers. Try it FREE for 60-Days.)

Blog Questions

Got a blog (which you should have)? We can easily gain valuable information from our readers just by asking. Build a blog post that ends with, “What do we think? Share a comment.” You’ll be amazed how much people actually WANT to share their opinions, and how eager they are to do so. And blogs are very versatile. Ask questions about a new product or service – we get answers. Ask questions about something unrelated… we get answers. What is important here is that we’re keeping our audience engaged, and building a more complete picture of exactly who OUR customers really are.

Our Email Lists

Got an email list? These are JUST the people you want to talk to, so, by all means, ASK! As you send out content filled emails and targeted offers, mix in questions and leave open a pathway to collect responses. We find out what OUR customers want, capture them for another possible immediate sale, and gather data for long-term marketing and future offers. The people on our lists have one absolutely critical advantage – they’re  pre-screened… our own built-in audience, already interested in our products or services. Again, Constant Contact is a great tool to maintain your email list as they have a Survey Tool built right into their product.

Forums and Q&A Sites

Talk about a “Natural!” Simply joining online forums and question-and-answer sites opens a wide information-gathering doorway. Many times, we don’t even have to ask; there may already be a discussion going about just what we need to know. Thinking about adding a new product or service to your product line? There are probably already several forums and Q&A sites already discussing it and you just need to read to get a very complete picture. Alternatively, you can start your own discussion and guide it exactly where you want it.

Data from Social Networks

Social networks may be the closest to a “real time” information source we will ever find. So many people today keep sites like Twitter and Facebook open all the time and constantly interact (impeding their own productivity, but that’s another post). More important, people interacting on social media sites tell us exactly what’s important to them… right then. This is exactly what we need to find out. Not only will they talk directly to us, but also, we can see from the content they share what they appreciate and like. And sites like Twitter and Facebook are even creating internal applications to help us research our markets.

Never Stop Offline Market Research

No matter how easy the Internet makes market research, offline research is also still valuable. Offline research often provides much more depth of insight than online research can. Focus groups, for example, give us personal interaction that we may not get online. Participants personal involvement leaves them more likely to engage on a deeper level – and tell us more. Most important, when working in person, we have the ability to follow threads generated within the discussion that online survey tools rarely allow.

The best place to find data about our markets is both online and offline – it becomes a question of budget and other available resources to see which performs and informs us best.


Try Sustainability for Greater Efficiency and More Profit

Reduce_Reuse_Recycle-WebApropos of nothing in particular, I just read a good article from United Parcel Service (since I use UPS, I get their newsletter). I’m not a “green harpy” by any means; however, whenever and wherever possible, in both business and at home, I follow, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” It’s just the right thing to do. Anything I can save, energy or materials, reduces my cost of doing business and our cost of life at home. (For instance, I have converted about 80% of the bulbs in our home to compact fluorescent. Since I did it over several years, I can’t point to the savings on my electric bill, but I estimate I am saving more than $50 each year… more than the cost of buying the bulbs. The bulbs I have not changed are not worth changing.)

Enjoy and profit from this article: A surprising way to boost your bottom line.

Market Targeting Step #1 – Market Research

Focus_GroupThe first step in making sure we are talking to our Target Market is, Market Research. This is where we start to see a picture of our target market so that we can build a business aimed specifically at meeting their needs. When we know the people in our market perfectly, it becomes easier to “draw a line” from them directly to the products and services best suited to solve their problems. It’s time to gather and analyze real data about our audience.

Qualitative and Quantitative Data – We Need Both!

Quantitative research looks at the big picture. It takes a large sample of over a hundred people or more and uses that sample to look at trends. If we pick one hundred random people in our market, we can probably assume that they represent the general population of our market.

One of the quickest and easiest quantitative research tools is the online survey. We may find out, for example, that 70% of the people we survey find our new product attractive. It then might be fairly safe to assume that 70% of all consumers would think so as well. (Email Marketing and Online Surveys by Constant Contact make it easy to connect with your customers. Try it FREE for 60-Days.)

Qualitative research is not as easy, but it gives us important information that we don’t get through quantitative methods. It’s really not numbers but feelings, impressions, words, and images. A deeper and more objective look based on interaction with our sample audience.

A frequently used tool for qualitative research is a focus group where we gather a small group, maybe five to ten people, from our customer base and open a discussion about our products that use questions to drill down to how they really feel about us and our products. Qualitative research may also include individual interviews and techniques like role playing.

Building Our Target Market Profile

All of our market research helps us create a profile of an imaginary, or “composite” person… our ideal customer. To make it easy to refer to our ideal customer, many companies even name him or her, so make your customer’s profile as complete as possible. It will have not only demographic and geographic information, but also how their feelings about things – beyond your products. This “psycho-graphic data” is just as important as geographic date. Knowing how people in our markets see themselves, how they use our products, what they’re most afraid of, what they hope for in the future, and so on.

Finally, combine all of the traits we’ve discovered about our audience (demographic, geographic, and psycho-graphic). Edit them down to 10 or 12 that are the most important. As this step is crucial to identifying our “ideal customer,” take a lot of care here. We may even find it a good idea to revisit this analysis if we want to re-familiarize ourselves with our ideal customer, or even if we want to try to make our marketing work even better.

The real benefit of creating a profile of our ideal customer is that we can create all of our sales and marketing materials as though we’re speaking directly to someone in our market face-to-face – makes it much easier.

Do Not Assume!

When you do market research, you are on a journey of discovery. Be absolutely objective. Let the data drive the picture you create. Making assumptions without data often leads to the wrong customer… not YOUR customer. When you start your research, go into it knowing that you do NOT know your customer, and discover your customer from the data.

Finding Our Target Market and Communicating With Them

Arrow_Hitting_TargetAs Communicators, We “Talk” to Our Target Market. No matter what type of business we’re in, as Small Office Communicators, working in large offices or small, the people we need to talk to every day are our “Target Market” – the folks who want and need our products, and all of our marketing efforts must connect directly with them. If we haven’t clearly defined our target market, we’re shouting with our eyes closed, hoping that we’ll find the folks who actually will buy. However, without knowing who our Target Market actually is, we don’t know if anyone is actually listening.

OK… Let’s Define a Target Market?

Our target market is a group of people, from a very few to very many, that have similar characteristics and needs, and to whom we direct our marketing and product efforts. This is a very specific audience – the ones who will buy OUR products and services. First, target markets are defined by broad demographic measures: age, gender, family situation, economic group, location – from county to country, social status, language, etc. A few examples of businesses with target markets would be:

  • A shopping network that targets working moms over 30
  • A resort that targets retirees
  • A store whose target market is young families
  • A clothing store that targets teens who see themselves as ‘alternative’
  • A winter sporting goods supply store that targets people in cold, northern areas
  • A blog that targets well-to-do expatriates

You can see here that not all the information is demographic (who people are). For example, the teens who see themselves as ‘alternative.’ So another factor in target marketing includes psychographic data (how people see themselves and the world around them). This is just as important as demographic information.

You can see how defining our target audience makes sure we are heard when we talk. Where does your business fit in?

Why We Direct Our Marketing Efforts Directly at Our Target

Arrow_Missing_TargetIn marketing, we either hit or miss – close doesn’t count. If we don’t talk to our market, we’re wasting every dime we spend because the folks who might buy are not hearing our message. Look at the example above, how well would a message for our retirees’ resort work loaded with active teens snowboarding and loud rock ‘n roll?

Since we can’t make everyone happy, we must make our target market very specific. If we talk too broadly, we’ll be talking to folks who have no need or interest in our products or services. They’ll just tune us out like other noise they want to avoid.

How to Win at Target Marketing and What’s the Prize?

The key to successful marketing in any business is to identify who are the right people to talk to, and also identify what is bothering them – and how OUR solution will relieve their pain. If we know exactly who they are, we can communicate our product’s features, advantages, and, most important, the benefits, in language to which they’re most likely to respond… Tell our retirees that, at our resort, they won’t have to fight the crowds… Tell our alternative teens that they won’t find the square older folks clothes here.

Here’s a fun benefit to talking with JUST our target market – they’ll relate to each other. As we identify and talk just to them, we create a community or ‘tribe’ centered on their common interests and needs. As we create our online campaign with blogs and social media, this community will actually help us, “spread the word.”

One trap to avoid is making assumptions. Thinking we know your market is NOT a substitute for objective data. As we research our target market, we’ll know what they like, what they think, and what they want from us.

This post is the first of a continuing series on, “Target Marketing.”

It’s Really Not More than You Can Handle!

Many of you who are running your business, or working with the communications of your business often wonder how you’re going to get it all done. People have been wondering this since biblical times. For a couple of examples, read, Exodus 18:17 – 23 and Luke 10:38 – 42. These are stories of folks who were really overburdened by the amount of work they had to get done, and these two stories point to at least one place to look to help you balance your work and life. Many people will tell you that, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.”

Yesterday, my son-in-law was guest pastor at our church and offered a sermon that took a slightly different view, and one that is certainly well worth considering, so I highly recommend listening – I’m sure you will enjoy his lesson… I know I certainly did. As you listen, think of your business and your workload and think about, “repositioning” some of your tasks to leave more, “you time,” “family time,” and time for your own faith.

And, yes, that is me reading the scripture before his sermon… and it is my daughter (Glenn’s wife) singing at the end. But the important thing is the message. Take a few minutes out of your busy day, or, better yet, at the end of the day when you really can appreciate it, and listen to his message, “More than You Can Handle” (This is an MP3 Audio File.)

How to Create an Effective “Intern Wanted” Ad to Get the Right Intern

Want_Ad_for_InternOnce you have decided that an intern would be a valuable asset for your company, the next challenge is to find the intern talent you want in your company by creating a great want ad or online ad. Even though interns work for little or no money, you still want to attract people who will contribute to your company’s success rather than be a drag on your output.

Writing this ad, as with writing ads to find full time staff or freelancers, is an investment in your business, so if it means spending a bit of money to get the ad right and find the right intern, it will be worth it. Let’s look at how to create a great ad that attracts the talent you’re looking for.

Who Are You?

The first thing potential interns want to know is about your company, so create a brief but informative description of who you are. This is not just your company tagline or motto, think “elevator speech” here. This statement should, as briefly as possible tell what the benefit to your customers is by doing business with you – this immediately positions you for prospective interns and motivates them to read on.

Next, look at an, “elevator speech” aimed at employees – what’s in it for them to work with you:

  • The “culture” in your company. What kind of people work with you? What does your office “feel” like – friendly, etc.? Describe the vibe. Exciting? Fast paced? Supportive? Creative?
  • Talk about any unusual benefits your business offers (like the perks at Google).
  • What does your business stands for? How are you trying to impact, not only your market, but the world?
  • Is there an overall philosophy motivating your employees.
  • Location! Location! Location! Where are you, and what is nearby.

Like advertising to your customers and clients, your ad should attract prospective interns so they feel drawn to working with you.

What Does Your Company Need From Them?

Outline generally and specifically what you will expect them to do: The kinds of projects will they’ll be working on, the educational experiences they’ll likely encounter, even how many hours you will expect them to work – this will be especially important for students.

As specific as you are, no one can foretell what the future holds, so leave room for flexibility. Your needs may change, and the intern you hire may prove better than you expected and therefore able to do more for you while learning more for themselves. Basically give them the information they need to determine if they want to take the next step and call you for an appointment.

The Big Question for Interns, “What can I expect to learn?”

Any prospective employee wants to know, “What’s in it for me?” Your prospective interns might learn about:

  • Website setup.
  • Product creation.
  • Product and Sales Marketing.
  • Web analytics.
  • Attracting traffic to web sites.
  • Search engine optimization.
  • Purchased traffic.
  • Building and maintaining a blog.
  • Social media support.

Don’t just tell them what they’ll learn, tell them, “What’s in it for them?” For instance, it they will be maintaining your company blog, let them know how important it is to your company, and how important it is for them to know this skill for the future.

If a term isn’t “self-explanatory,” explain it. “CMS” is pretty meaningless by itself, but even, “Content Management System” might leave them not fully informed – and they will want to know what they might be getting themselves in for.

Limit the responses to save your time

To find best talent, as well as to save time, who need not apply. You might say:

“This position is perfect for anyone interested in response oriented marketing. This position is not aimed at branding-type marketing. You’ll learn how to optimize promotions for maximum sales, rather than trying to gain market share. Interns who want to learn how a profitable web business works should apply. But for branding experience, this is not the job for you.”

Once you have stated up front who is best for this job – as well as who this is not aimed at, will save you time filtering out unnecessary applications.

Working Arrangement and Future Job Opportunities

Give interns an honest view on how the working arrangement will work and what their future job opportunities are.

Do not promise a future job. But if you do plan on hiring someone after the internship, tell them so in the ad. By all means, tell them about future job opportunities, both in your company and outside your company. Tell them what positions may open in your firm, and what kinds of jobs people with their skills they learn with your company might expect on the open market.

And, of course, tell them how long the internship will last. And what criteria you’ll use to if you might want to keep them on full time.

Tell Them How to Respond

Finally, end your ad by telling them how to respond. Should they send a resume? Should they send samples of their past work? Should they include their email and phone number?

Some people ask interns to send in a 2 minute video introduction. That’s a great way to get the vibe of someone, though you’ll reduce the number of applicants you get because you’re making people jump through more hoops.

Here’s a good trick. Ask applicants to include a code word in their email. For example, “Include a nonsense word like ‘gormln’ (I hope that’s a nonsense word) in your subject line.” Anyone who neglects the code word didn’t bother to read your whole ad – a good pre-screen.

This pathway to a great, “Intern Wanted” ad will help you quickly find the candidate most likely to be of real value to your company and most likely to benefit from your intern program.

Identify your problems but give your power and energy to solutions. ~ Anthony Robbins

How to Make Sure Your Interns Benefit from Your Program

Intern_in_MeetingInterns who finish their term with your company should feel like they just had an amazing learning experience. They should complete their time with you with real world skills they can use, either in your company or somewhere else. What is the easiest way to insure your intern gets maximum benefit from their time with you – and, most critically, so does your company.

Ask Them!

Find out your intern’s expectations. Flexibility is important, as the intern may need to learn some specific things to meet some school or career growth need. In most cases, meeting their needs and your needs will be best for both of you. The two of you should map out a growth plan for their time with you that should include expectations on BOTH sides. Then at the end of the term, an exit interview will allow you both to learn how well you both did. You may want to schedule mid-term interviews to make sure you are both meeting expectations.

Interns Should Have Full Access to Every Learning Opportunity and Tool

Of great value to both you and your intern is full access to your library of training information. You may have expensive marketing courses, copy-writing learning programs, business books, audiobooks and any other resources you have.

Ambitious interns will want to read and learn during the time they’re at the office, but many times will want to take materials home. They learn faster, and become more productive faster: win-win. It is quite possible that some of these materials would normally be out of their price range, so encouraging them to learn from your materials is good for both of you.

Initially, They Should “Shadow” Your Staff

If your intern and you want them to be able to create simple videos for web use, assign them to shadow and learn from your staff. From concept to script to storyboard through production and post-production – let them learn the process from front to back.

They should be in all the meetings. Don’t be afraid of revealing numbers or feel like you need to hide your “secrets.” Ultimately, your interns should be part of your success team. If necessary, have them sign a non-disclosure agreement, but do not keep them from learning opportunities.

Next, Real Projects

For the first few weeks of their time with you, it learning is their major role. Learning from videos, books or shadowing others in your company as they do their jobs. Asking questions and absorbing knowledge.

After a few weeks, however, it’s time for the training wheels to come off so your intern can become a productive member of the team and expand their learning to solve real problems and make real contributions to your company’s goals.

When this switch happens, your interns really become an asset for your company, and to themselves. This is why, in the last post, I said that you seriously may want to consider paying them instead of getting their help for nothing. In the beginning, of course, it will be slow going as they learn. Don’t be afraid, however, to let your interns fail – remember my saying, “Budget for Failure.” Let them learn and grow by working in the real world.

After each project they work on, ask them what worked and what they’d change next time. When we were building National Meetings for Minolta, we always followed each presentation with a, “post mortem” discussion so we could see what we did well, and what we wanted to improve. These sessions can work with your interns too.

One thing I learned when working with inexperienced people was not to tell them the solution, but ask questions that will lead them to the answer. Than kind of, “discovery” learning will last the longest – and benefit both you and the intern.

Interns are a wonderful resource, but if both you and the intern don’t benefit, you have wasted valuable company resources. As I have also said for many years, “Make sure you give your interns (or anyone else for that matter) what they need from you so you can get what you need from them.” When your interns see you as both their employer and their teacher, you both will get maximum benefit from their internship, and they become not just a gopher, but a productive and profit producing member of your team.

One of the greatest gifts you can give to anyone is the gift of attention. ~ Jim Rohn

Internships: What Are They, and Why They Are a Win-Win

Intern and Business OwnerAn internship program in your company can be a true business win-win. You can:

  • Add more energy to your workplace
  • Test-drive potential talent
  • Find future superstar employees
  • Contribute to the education of a young person.

Let’s look at what internships are all about.

What is an Internship?

An internship program in your company encourages potential future hires, students and other driven learners to work with you and your people more as learners than doers. Instead of trying to figure out how things really work by reading textbooks, they actually do real work in real companies, like yours, with real consequences – the best learning environment.

Intern tasks are many and varied – from coffee to concepts. For instance, an intern in your marketing department may spend a day doing:

  • Making sure all the office printers are full of paper.
  • Offer, and possibly develop, advertising ideas for one of your clients.
  • Create marketing and programming liaison.
  • Learn about social media, and implement your social program.
  • Report on a book that is of value to your team, but that they don’t have time to read.

A truly varied day that is good for the intern and good for the company.

Do Businesses Benefit from Interns?

Let’s look at a few of the reasons why your company may benefit from an intern. First, it’s a great way to test drive potential employees at very low risk. With no long-term contracts or obligations, it is easy to weed out interns what won’t work out, and retain the people who will be good for your business and also enjoy working with you. Since most internships cost little or nothing( for instance, student interns are often paid by their school and will get credit for the time working with you), the, “budget for failure” cost gets very small. And often, people who want to work as interns are already: Curious, driven, intelligent and self-starting.

These, usually young, people bring in new perspective and vision. Interns frequently are college students, and they are studying right at the cutting edge, writing, graphic design, various computer tools, etc.

Many businesses feel that interns are cheap or even free labor. I don’t think this is the right approach. Paying an intern for their time and knowledge makes sure that you, the business owner, know the value of their value, and helps them establish good working habits. And I don’t think that people who work for free are giving their best. So if you may hire an intern later, paying them for their intern time helps you better evaluate their qualities as a prospective employee.

And this really is an excellent way to, “give back” to the community.

, you get to give back to your community and to students. For many students, the opportunity to work in an online business is a once in a lifetime chance. They get to work instead of a corporate ladder. It’s exciting for them and a total win/win for everyone.

Do Interns Benefit?

So why would interns want to work for you for free (or very little money) – what’s in it for them?

First and foremost, they learn real world skills in a fast paced, profit driven environment. Working with you, they may be exposed to, and gain experience in: analytics tracking, PPC or media buying, copy-writing, graphic design, web design, fulfillment management, content production, multimedia production, product creation, etc. Skills that enhance resumes and that can’t be learned from books.

It’s one thing to learn about Google AdWords from a textbook. It’s something else entirely to do keyword research, to set bids, to write ads, to track results and to refine a real campaign. A textbook can explain things theoretically, but the experiences an intern gains from working in your office in the real world is invaluable.

Interns also come into your company looking to see what it really looks and feels like to work in a company in the real world, not the isolated academic community. And your company can provide that opportunity. Plus, this, “foot in the door” can be a pathway to a full time job that, in today’s employment environment is a great help.

According to 2007-2008 data from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), over 65% of interns were ultimately offered a full time position. And almost 90% of those interns ended up taking that position. In other words, interns generally employers they like, and employers find valuable employees to hire.

Interns learn working in the front lines of a real business, and businesses find good future employees at a very modest cost. So internships really are a win-win.

Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does. ~ William James

Time Management – How to Say No – Nicely, to Requests for Your Time

NoEvery day, as managers and business owners, distractions and interruptions present themselves and we face one of our toughest challenges: saying NO. We absolutely want to help our co-workers… we almost feel as if we owe it to others. Admirable… until the work we need to do starts piling up adding to our own stress and forcing us to work additional hours to catch up. I’m not saying to cut ourselves off from the world around us, but we do need to establish boundaries and maintain them, all the while staying flexible to accommodate the interruptions that must be dealt with immediately.

Just Say No… What it Really Means

When we always say, “Yes,” others benefit… but not us – their work load lightens, but ours increases… this is not good – we may end up over stressed, or worse, burned out. How can we be productive when we are constantly responding to others’ problems?

So look at it the other way: when we say no the interruptions, it shows that we really do value our time as much as our co-workers’ time. Establishing this kind of value to our time helps us value ourselves, and lets co-workers know how important our time is to us.

Saying NO is Not an Excuse to be Rude

Now is the time to realize the importance of not being abrupt and rude with our interrupters. It’s important to realize that there’s nothing rude or disagreeable about declining a request for our time. When we say no, we’re simply being honest with them. We can’t be truly helpful to people if we don’t really have the time give their issue our full attention.

How to Say No

Be brief, direct, honest… and smile. Remember, your no means no discussion – you haven’t the time. But try a simple smile and telling the person that you can’t help them… right now. A good path here is to, “redirect” them to a time that you have already allotted for interruptions so you can give the problem the attention it deserves – and offer a specific time so they know you are serious… and make sure you KEEP that appointment! So a disarming smile, and a redirect to a later time may solve the problem for both of you.

We can also be a bit more vague by informing the interrupter that we will, “think about it” and get back to them. It is good practice here to absolutely follow up on that. If you don’t plan to follow up, don’t promise it – this winds up being negative for both of you. A somewhat vague time frame may be easy to handle, but it is also abdicating your responsibility – so be specific and follow up.

Another redirect technique is to refer them to someone else may be better able to help. So rather than saying now, suggest that, “I’m not the best person for this right now, but you may want to try this other person.”

Generally, Leave No Room for Discussion

What I’ve just outlined works well when the person accepts your position. But if they press for a reason, well, again, just say no! If you explain what you are working on, you leave room for discussion. It really doesn’t matter what you are working on… you ARE working on it, and giving it your full concentration. By not explaining it, there is no discussion. Just establish the alternatives you are willing to commit to, and, politely, send them on their way. It may take a while and some hurt feelings before you have mastered keeping your time to yourself, but it will be worth it as you become more productive throughout your day.

Of course, if the interrupter is your boss, or your child, as I’ve said before, some flexibility may be needed, so keep an open mind.


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