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How to Handle an Interruption

August 11, 2010

Interruptions can be tiresome and difficult to handle.  However, they are critical to manage since research says that it takes 20 minutes to get back to the level of concentration prior to the interruption (Organize your work day  – in no time, Karen McCorry)

Here are 3 simple steps, ACT, from Meryl Runion author of Powerphrases to manage interruptions yet avoid conflict:

  • Acknowledge – Let them know that you understand their situation
    “Yes, I see what you are asking.” “I’d be happy to help.” “This would require my full attention.” “I understand what you need.”
  • Circumstance – Let them know about your situation and why you won’t be able to help.
    “I have a meeting at 2pm.” “5 minutes is all I have now.” “I don’t have it to give right now.” “I have a 3pm deadline.”
  • Transform – Offer alternatives to how you can help.
    “I can talk with you after that.” “Will that be helpful?” “I believe you can handle it by yourself.” “If you still need help tomorrow I can fit it in.”

Start Using ACT in low risk situations to get some practice managing interruptions and trying out wording that works for you.

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