People will take over your life if you let them. How do they do it?
Step 1: They begin by taking over your time.
“This will only take a minute…”
“Can we have a quick call to discuss…”
“We’d like to get your input on…”
When they send a message in one place to say they’ve left a message for you in another place, you know you’re really in trouble. Watch out!
Step 2: They continue by asserting their priorities over yours.
“We need this done right away.”
“This is really urgent.”
One hour after asking for something: “Have you had a chance to look at that yet?”
(Note: Do not mistake urgent for important. Also refer to: Your lack of planning is not my emergency.)
Step 3: They assume they know better than you do.
“Let me give you some free advice.”
“I know just what you should do.”
“This will be a win-win for both of us.”
(Note: Most of the time when someone says something will help you, what they mean is “This will help me, but let’s pretend it helps you too.”)
Step 4: When you decline to give in to the demands, they’ll attempt to make you feel bad.
“I’m not sure why you’d say no to this great opportunity.”
“I really need your help to ensure this project succeeds.”
“Can we talk about why you don’t feel this is a good fit?”
Sometimes, we let people take over our lives by entrusting judgment to them. We assume that other people know better than we do. We assume that other people’s priorities are more important than ours.
The answer is to stop believing these things and to start building a tower.
You begin by deciding for yourself what success looks like. Set your own rules. Be clear on what you want and how you’re going to get it.
You continue by defining the terms of engagement. If 9 out of 10 voicemails are a waste of time, why bother listening at all? If you know the meeting will be unproductive, why attend? If you don’t want to be distracted by social media, don’t log in.
Here are five powerful words you can use to regain control: “Sorry, I’m not available right now.”