“I would like to request a meeting with you as soon as possible.”
A statement like that can create all sorts of internal responses. It can make you feel anxious: “I wonder what happened?” It can make you feel special: “Oh, they’ve got a problem and they need me to help fix it.”
And a statement like that can cause you to waste some precious moments in your life. Oftentimes people will want a piece of your schedule but will not tell you what they need or want to visit about. When they do you can wind up in a meeting you did not need to agree to and spend a day or more “wondering” what will present itself to you.
While reading the book Drucker & Me I came across a way to gain a little more control of my schedule. Bob Buford tells his story of how he developed a relationship with Peter Drucker, the “Father of Modern Management.” Buford had requested a time with Drucker to get his advice on running his family’s private business.
Drucker agreed to a meeting but required that Buford write him a letter first detailing what was on his mind. That letter would serve as their agenda when they met.
It also did two other things:
- It helped Buford clarify his thoughts about what he wanted most to gain from the meeting.
- It gave Drucker the opportunity to think about the meeting in concrete ways before it happened.
You don’t have to require a letter before a meeting but think about how you will be able to better approach your meetings with people who want to just “drop in” if you know what they have on their mind ahead of time. It is perfectly all right for you to ask them what they want or what the topic is they would like to discuss.
Jesus would ask people, “What are you seeking?” and “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked the question for the sake of those following him more than he did for himself. As they got clear about what they wanted and could state it he was clear to them in his responses.
There may be times you deny a request for your time. If a priority is already on your schedule and you sense that someone has something they want that does not fit what you can offer, you may have to be honest and tell them that a meeting would not benefit either of you. And you may be able to point them to someone who can be of more help to them.
The next time someone requests some of your time be sure to ask them politely what it is they want help with or to talk about. Gently push them until they give you an answer.
And the next time you need someone else’s time be sure to let them know in a clear sentence what it is you are seeking in having the meeting.
You will save yourself and the other person some precious time. And you will find your day more productive.
Question: How do you handle meeting requests?