“As an Executive, I Don’t Have Time for This” (Microlearning Exercise)

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“Please communicate with my (support staff) because as an executive I don’t have time for this.”

Yikes.

That was the essence of an email received from a busy executive. How does it strike you?  

One phrase or sentence can give an impression to others that you may later regret. (I don’t know if this person regretted it or not–but I learned something about them in a short email.)

Before reading further, take a moment to consider how YOU would edit that response. Practice for a minute or two. I’ll wait.

Let’s take a look at this response and see how it could have been framed differently.

Positives

The executive is aware of his/her limitations of time and scope.

The individual has a support system in place, apparently trained and empowered to act at least somewhat on their behalf.

They said “please.”

Negatives

The response comes across as consdescending. They unnecessarily reinterated that they were an executive.

They used a standard excuse of “I don’t have time for this” but blamed being an executive. It comes across like their work is more important than the work of non-executives, even if it wasn’t intended that way.

Suggested Improvements

One simple improvement could have changed how this person comes across. Remove the phrase, “as an executive.”

An even better approach would be to avoid both “as an executive” and “I don’t have time for this.” The first, because it’s condescending. The second, because ANYONE can use the phrase “I don’t have time for this.” It’s cliche. It’s lazy writing. Both phrases are unnecessary.

How much better would the following response be?

Hi Beth, thanks for writing! My assistant (Name) will be happy to help you with this. You can reach him/her at ____________. I hope you have a productive day!

Now, share with me your edits of this response and let’s grow together!  Feel free to share the graphic below for practice with your work team!

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