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Tips For Dealing with Urgent Requests

How many times have you been told something is urgent and requires immediate attention and action? If you’re like me, it’s probably thousands of times. The one good thing about dealing with thousands of urgent requests is that is after the first 50 or so you start to realize two things. One, some things are simply not really urgent. Two, your definition of urgent is almost always different from someone else definition. So what to do?

First, understand that we live in an instant-response world where a simple push of a button can make something feel urgent. This creates a false sense of urgency. Next time you get that email with the little red exclamation point or the voicemail at 10 p.m., try these three tips for determining how to respond:
1: Don’t assume urgent means right now. Talk with your boss or your customer about what he wants to accomplish and when it’s really needed. His interpretation of “immediately” may be different from yours. Many times if you simply discuss the “urgent” matter together, you can redefine the issue to a more manageable and appropriate response.

2: Respond, but don’t necessarily act. Sometimes a client or colleague wants you to commit or respond right away to a plan of action, but doesn’t need more than that in the short-term. Explain what you will do and your intended timeline to be sure that meets her needs or at minimum sets up a clear expectation.

3: Be prepared to say no. At times, you need to discern between a true crisis and a cry of wolf. Even if your customer, employee, boss, etc. thinks he needs it right now, it may be best
to simply decline. Often times when taking this approach the “urgent” issue resolves itself. Caution, this approach can sometimes upset the person who thinks this is an urgent matter. However, you should be able to tell based on your relationship what is truly “urgent” and what is cry wolf. The person may still get upset, but that is always a risk when you say no.

Hope this helps!

-DF

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Written by David Frederick

July 13, 2011 at 11:28 AM

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