Monday, April 06, 2009


Apparently, a great number of people believe that what they need me to
do is far more important than what I'm currently doing. They believe
that, and I say that because they just feel free to interrupt without
even asking if I might be busy. It's assumed that I am there just
a'waitin for their next whim.

Tact hasn't always been my strong point. I do have a tendency to go with
the sharp reply when I feel like people just assume that I couldn't
possibly be doing anything nearly as urgent as what they want me to do.
Sarcasm is a great tool, but realistically, there's not always a place
for it.

My question, or rather my request, is, how would you tactfully inform
someone that what you're doing is quite possibly as important as what
they want you to do for them. I ask for tactful because let's face it,
we have to work together.

Pardon the formatting here. I sent this via a quick email rather than
logging on. It was pretty urgent, actually. HA! Please help. Send your
friends with suggestions too. You might save a life!


  1. Turn to them honestly and say "I'm aware that what you are doing is very important and as soon as I'm doing something less important than you, I will email you, but until you receive my email, would you please get away from me before I do something you'll regret" then smile maliciously.

  2. Hi Jimmy,
    I think the answer depends on who exactly is making the request of you. If it's your boss, for example, I'd cut him or her more slack, just explain what else is on your plate and work with him/her to prioritize. If it's another circumstance -- something in your personal life or where you're in charge -- I'd put my foot down (i.e. "I'll get to it when I can, but right now I'm busy ..."). Of course, if it's something you don't want or have to do, you can take a page out of Nancy Reagan's book and "just say no."

  3. Hm. Can you say something like, "I'm really busy with this right now and it's high priority, but as soon as I'm done with this we can talk about your project." That sounds fairly tactful, doesn't it?


  4. If it's someone like a boss or another person affected by how your workload gets done, then explain how it would affect what you're already doing and ask directly if they happy for you to prioritise something new at the expense of the original deadline for what you're currently working on.

    If it's someone who can legitimately give you work but isn't your boss, say you'd be happy to help them, but they'll need to speak to or email your boss for them to okay you spending time on it, because you don't have the capacity to do both right now.

    And if it's someone just interrupting you with work that isn't yours but that they want help with...say 'no'. And if they come back with some reply, like 'oh, it'll just take a few minutes' or 'I don't know who else to ask' or something, be pleasant but direct. 'I don't even have those few minutes'...or suggest someone less busy, or tell them to try Google. Be honest about how much time you have and don't have - consider the current project and say, 'I'll be busy with this until at least 3pm. If you need it done before that, then you should probably ask someone else.'

    I guess the point is, you can be honest and firm without killing anyone. :)

  5. Yeah, I if it's tactful you want, I'm drawing a blank.

  6. Hi Jimmy! Long time no see! I hope all is well with you - hmmm, I seem to have the same problem you are talking about in this entry all the time, guess I'm no help!

  7. I wish I could help. My hubby has a rather similar problem at work. He always has a list of priorities and tasks about a mile long, yet certain coworkers like to come in and just yak. Or they stand there and stare at him while he tries to work. He tactfully tells them he has to get this or that done, but they often don't take the hint...foolish! Good luck! :)

  8. Jimmy if I were you I would make it very clear that what you are working on is Important to you ~ and when you have finished if they still need you ~ you will be there for them ~ but until that time back off until I am ready to deal with you ~ (Is that tactful enough:o) ~ I know you can put your foot down and now is the time to do it ~ Ally x

  9. Hi Jimmy;
    See Marty's answer above...that about says it all for me!
    I have learned through the years to just say no and try to do it in a kind way...but with no wavering. a lot of folk don't like being told they go away mad or hurt...until they NEED me again.
    love ya,


I love comments. I won't lie about that!