I just had someone send me a document that they needed to have completed RIGHT NOW for an important deadline they had. Mind you, they could have sent the document months earlier. Due to their poor planning, they waited until the last minute to send it to me. Normally, I wouldn’t sweat it and I’d fill it out pretty quickly and get it back to them. However, on this occasion, I was in Panama on business. I was headed home to Austin for less than 24 hours, then I was off to Charlotte for business meetings at BNI Global, and then I was off to Necker Island for some downtime.
They could not have caught me at a worse time – and they were completely aware that I was in the midst of my travels. Regardless, they emailed me, emailed my assistant, emailed my wife, and emailed all of us twice more (all within two days). In between my meetings, I dropped this person a message and said, “I’m sorry you have a problem but your project is not my priority due to your poor planning. You had months to send this to me and you sent it at the last moment (when I’m swamped) and you want it right now. NO. I am not able to do it right now.”
In my book, Who’s in Your Room, I said that sometimes, “no” is a one-word sentence. This is one of the times I made it a one-word sentence (OK, I know I had other sentences but I wanted to include that one-word sentence of “NO”).
I understand this person’s frustration. She made a mistake in her poor planning and dropped this in my lap. I’ve been there before but I did not handle it like she did (multiple demands for completion, reaching my assistant and even my wife – several times)!
Poor Planning Tips
I recommend you consider these suggestions if you find yourself in a situation where you are dropping your problem on someone else due to your poor planning:
- Start with an apology: “I’m really, really sorry but something has slipped through the cracks. I am getting this to you late. I know you should have had it a long time ago but you didn’t and that’s on me. I’ve attached it to this message. Is there any way you can get it to me by X date or time? I know this may be an inconvenience but I would appreciate if you could make that happen.
- Copy the assistant on the message (once – not multiple times).
- NEVER harass the spouse. Ever! Mine didn’t particularly appreciate being pulled into something she had nothing to do with. More importantly, she’s pretty confident that I’m a big boy now and don’t really need further parenting.
- When you do get what you requested – thank them. Throw yourself on the sword again. Tell them you appreciate them helping you out by getting it to you quickly.
Always remember – Someone’s poor planning can lead to problems! By the way, feel free to send this blog to anyone who tries to make their problems your projects. Maybe they’ll get the message.