Transparency and honesty are vital, experts say
The check is in the mail — promise.
President Trump evaded reporters’ questions Wednesday on whether he would decertify the Obama-era Iran nuclear deal — offering only the assurance that “I have decided,” and that he would “let you know what the decision is,” without giving a timeframe. It wasn’t the first time he’d stalled since his election win, having missed vague or self-imposed deadlines on an ISIS news conference, a plan to stop cyberattacks and furnishing evidence that Barack Obama wiretapped him. His predecessor was no stranger to stalling either, with a penchant for missing budget blueprint deadlines.
Pretty much anyone can relate to fending off a boss, coworker, client or publicist inquiring about the status of a project or a looming deadline. Here are some best practices for buying time at work without looking like a jerk, according to experts:
Be honest and transparent. There’s “tremendous strength and power” in being able to tell the truth, leadership coach Peter Bregman told Moneyish. “Say, ‘I haven’t made a decision yet — here’s why, here’s what I’m waiting for, here’s when I expect to get it, and here’s when I’ll let you know.’” Deliberately keeping others in the dark or on the hook can be a way to “exert power,” he said, and will ultimately erode their trust in you.
“It’s more important to slow down and gain the information and ask (if) you don’t have it,” added workplace expert Alissa Carpenter, “versus being misleading or giving the wrong information.”
Offer an update. Name key factors you’re considering and specific resources you might consult for the task at hand, Carpenter told Moneyish. “I think it’s letting them in a little bit and giving them those little nuggets that’ll help them feel comforted — giving them just enough information to think that you’re not stalling and that you have an action plan to move forward,” she said. “It won’t appear you’re stalling if you’ve (solved) 50% of the 100% problem.”
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Don’t deflect or dodge. Many people are “smarter than you think they are — so if you’re trying to evade or deflect, they know it,” Bregman said — especially if you do it routinely. Own up to the prospect of missing a deadline early on: “Have the courage to go to the person and say, ‘I’m missing the deadline, and here’s why’ … And you tell them as early as possible,” he said. “It’s very rare that you will miss a deadline and only realize that you’ve missed it after it happens. As much forewarning as you have, that’s what you should give people.”
Don’t burden your boss with unnecessary info. “If you think you can solve a problem, you don’t have to tell your boss, ‘Mary didn’t come into work today and John’s on sick leave and Harry’s tied up with another project,’” executive coach John Baldoni told Moneyish. “You’ll just say, ‘Boss, we’ll get it done.’” At the same time, he added, sometimes “we think we can handle something and pretty soon we get underwater.” In that case, the employee should raise her hand and ask for help — and the boss should “ask questions, observe (and) find out what’s going on.” Bosses must be “available and observant,” he said, though not micromanaging.
Don’t play games with your boss. “You and your boss are on the same side in that you work for the same company,” Baldoni said, and “if your interests become unaligned, then that’s a problem because you’re working for different purposes.”
Be a leader. Being open with others about why you need more time on a project sets you up to be an influencer, executive coach and Google senior account manager Rachel O’Meara told Moneyish. “When you explain yourself, when you’re sharing what is going on, then you make a better case for yourself to stall, to postpone, to add more time,” she said. “Trusted influencers are those who share openly and vulnerably … That all helps you be a better leader.”
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