Jodi Glickman Brown offered a more structured approach in a recent Harvard Business Review blog post. She suggests a three-step approach to getting away. First say, "Thank you." It's not insincere to thank them for their time, even if it's been painful. Second, identify a spontaneous transition. Saying something like, "Oh boy, I need to make a phone call," gives you an excuse for exiting the situation. Finally, Brown says you should suggest forward momentum. This might sound something like, "I will be sure to check out that article" or "I appreciate you letting me know about that new coffee shop." Even if you don't have a next step to promise, you can always reflect the other person's passion for the topic such as, "I never realized there were so many ways to categorize birds."
As managers, it is critical that we engage employees in thoughtful discourse and conversation. By listening, we show respect for their ideas and encourage them to be innovative and creative. However, when your boundaries have been crossed and you really need to move on, don't be afraid to say so.
Marnie E. Green is Principal Consultant of the Chandler, AZ-based Management Education Group, Inc. Green is a speaker, author, and consultant who helps organizations develop confident leaders. Contact Green at phone: 480-705-9394 email: firstname.lastname@example.org web site: http://www.managementeducationgroup.com.
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