Today, our topic is overcommitting. What do you do once you have enthusiastically jumped in and said yes and then you realize you have no time?
The first things I’m going to look at are prevention strategies, and then some tips for how to cure it, how to get out of the commitment once you have made the commitment.
Prevention is a question of calming down and breathing. Lots of people are going to come to you and say, “Hey, Shelle, we’ve got this great idea that we would like to get you involved in.” Instead of saying, “Really? Yes I’ll do it!” breathe. Ask questions:
“Tell me more.”
“What does it entail?”
Take some notes and make sure you thoroughly understand what the person is asking you to do.
Once you’ve had all your questions answered, I suggest you say,
“You know what? I’m going to check with my other commitments to see if I can fit that in. Let me get back to you,” and then let them know when you can get back to them.
Breathe, stay calm, ask questions, and promise that you will check it out with your other commitments. The other person will know that you are taking them seriously. You’re weighing whether or not you have time to do it properly and then promise to get back to them. This gives you the opportunity to see whether or not it will be an over commitment.
You’ve said yes. What do you do? First, as soon as possible, you need to do something. Don’t wait. Don’t hide. Don’t chew your fingernails in anxiety. Do something as soon as possible, as soon as you realized you’ve overcommitted.
Secondly, what do you do? Apologize. Use the Bad News Formula. Check out my Shelle’s Top Tips on apologizing and the Bad News Formula for exact instructions on each of these.
Lastly, offer the other person something. You’ve let them down, maybe you can help them find a replacement for you or perhaps there is a part of the task that you can do that will help them out. Find something that you can do and remember to think about this before you speak to them. I suggest you do this on the phone or in person rather than by email. It will go over much better and keep your relationship in good form.
For more tips on how to get out of those sticky communication situations, check out my book, The Customer is Bothering Me. It’s also an e-book that you can download and it’s got lots of hints and tips for difficult communication situations.