Raise your hand if you’ve been in a meeting or on a call that just seems to go on and on...and on, with no real purpose or agenda. What about those times someone has “popped by” your office or house unexpectedly and they end up eating into precious time of your day you had set aside for other things? Both scenarios are frustrating to say the least, but of course we don’t want to be rude when trying to navigate how to wrap up that call or unplanned visit.
When dealing with challenging people in the above scenarios, we have to stop and ask "what's the point?" What is the purpose of the call, meeting, impromptu stop by? By being intentional about respectfully and lovingly defining the agenda and overall intent of that call or meeting, we can be more proactive in protecting our time.
In last week’s video, I talked about how the first boundary we can set when dealing with difficult people is determining a timeframe. Remember we used the example of “I know you’re calling for an important reason. I've got 5 - 10 minutes now, will that be enough time to answer your questions? If not, let's get something scheduled so that I can give you my full attention.”
Once you’ve got the time established, the next step is to define the agenda and purpose of the call or meeting so that framework is available to help keep things on track. Here are a few sample questions you can use to start building that agenda.
"What will we be discussing?"
"What do you need my assistance with?"
"What is the purpose/goal/endgame of this call or meeting?"
“How can I help?”
By asking these questions and taking a deeper dive into what the overall goal or desired result is helps them define what actually needs to be discussed or addressed (and maybe even more beneficially, what DOESN’T need to be discussed). Keep in mind, sometimes you might have to offer to create said agenda. This can actually be useful if things start getting off track, because you can then tactfully redirect the attention and focus of the meeting by reminding everyone of the agenda, timing, and purpose.
Remember, you’re in charge of setting and holding your boundaries when it comes to handling challenging people!
BONUS: In the words of Holistic Health Coach Lauren Kenson, “Boundary setting helps you prioritize your needs over other people’s wants.”