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Making Interruptions Positive


Chat, email, slack, zoom, DM, phone calls, office visits - we have so many ways to reach out – and each is an interruption. A survey of knowledge workers found that whether an interruption was perceived as positive or negative was an even 50/50. As we balance hybrid and onsite with multiple communication tools, how your interruption is perceived is key to team effectiveness. So here are a few tips from Harvard Business Review on how to make those moments when you need to interrupt be received positively. Notice the focus on considering the other person.

  • Is it important? – is this likely to be a priority for them? How does the news or task affect that person and the team?

  • Consider their workload – if they are already slammed that day, consider asking someone else or waiting until later.

  • Is this the right person? – does their role make them the best fit for this question or task?

  • Observe the busy signals – if their door is closed, or their calendar shows as unavailable, leave a message asking for time.

  • Keep it brief – don’t let interruptions drag on, show respect for the other persons’ time.

  • Give advance warning – consider providing a heads up that you’ll reach out next week with feedback, or if you need response by a certain date/time. Requesting a time to check-in allows teammates to adjust focus to meet priorities.

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