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Time management - Socialising


We have all been the subject of the social call which ostensibly starts out with the intention of covering a business topic and rapidly digresses into a chat of gossip. Whilst it is nice to be polite the social side of a call can become excessive.

Escape clause

When your problem stems from telephone calls or drop in visitors try:


If you have an assistant then use them to screen visitors using the process.

Deal with it

If the assistant can deal with it then allow them to do so.

Refer to another

If your assistant is aware of the project or circumstances they may be able to refer the matter to a third party.

Make an appointment / postpone

Ask if they would like to make an appointment or phone back later. They will need to provide details of name, topic, brief summary of the reason for the call and how long it is likely to take.

Put them through to the you

If all else fails put them through.

No assistant:

With no assistant you can’t operate a screening process. However, make your self accessible but not available.

  • Keep you door closed.
  • Try to move your office location if it is close to a canteen etc.
  • Temporarily carry out work elsewhere.
  • Move your desk within the office to avoid eye contact with passers by


Should you be trapped in your office or elsewhere then you will need to develop a few skills to end the conversation or remove your self from a social situation. Once you have realised the existence of particular situations you can tailor responses accordingly.

  • Try to get the conversation back on a business footing. The word, ‘anyway…’ is good for this.
  • Come from behind your desk or stand up during the conversation.
  • Intercept the person outside of your office.
  • Say you are about to leave for an appointment and need to prepare.

The problem with trying to resolve social problems is that there is a fine line between removing someone politely and appearing to be rude.
Also, a degree of socialising is a must for daily team work and networking.

If you are involved in conversation try not to let the discussion go off on a tangent and try not to speak about yourself all the time.

If the problem centres around tea breaks try to leave politely with the phrase, ‘Well, anyway…’ which is usually good enough.

In order to keep conversation times to a minimum do not ask ‘open’ questions keep them ‘closed’.
Open questions are those that invite answers other than ‘no’ or ‘yes’.
An exception to this would be if someone is complaining. Open questions will help find out more detail and can induce others to think of their own solutions. For example, following a complaint you might ask, ‘What are you doing about it?’ and perhaps follow this with ‘What is your next step?’ In these cases the answers can not be ‘yes’ or ‘no’

Non - PRINCE2 information