I thought you are busy!

November 28, 2019
I thought you are busy

I thought you are busy!

Many a time, an action does not happen in time because of this assumption – I thought you are busy!

We send something for someone’s attention and action and when we receive no response, we have a habit of making this assumption. Invariably, in such cases, the person who is assumed to be busy is higher up in the hierarchy or is a person of great influence.

No response

Recently, I was coaching a professional who had been attached to a mentor from the industry to boost his sales effectiveness while I was coaching him on his leadership competencies. During one of the meetings, when I asked him how his mentoring was shaping up, he stated quite disappointingly, ‘We haven’t been having any meetings. I think he is busy.’ I asked him if he had pursued the matter further to validate his assumption. While shaking his head, he gave me a look that meant, ‘Obviously he is busy, else he would have responded to me.’

Think about it

I raise 4 questions here:

  • Whose need is it? A lot of times we are held back because of fear of authority or fear of embarrassment. What if I am ‘disturbing’ that person? If it is our need, it is important to pursue the matter without assuming, ‘I thought you are busy’. Find a way to go forth.
  • Are you fully committed to pursuing the matter further? Your own sense of urgency in pursuing the matter is a function of your commitment. Such an assumption questions your commitment. Are you using this ‘assumption’ as an escape hatch to run away from your commitment?
  • How do you know that the person has seen your communication? I believe that sending an email to the person is not equal to having communicated with that person. What if your email has been lost in hundreds of emails in the inbox?
  • How do you know that your sense of urgency has been fully understood by that person? Have you effectively communicated your sense of urgency? Is that person seized of the impact of no-response or a delayed response? What have you done to convey your sense of urgency? In case the person is far too high in the hierarchy, could you seek support from your manager to pursue the matter?

A lesson for leaders and managers

For leaders and managers who receive such requests from people who are junior to them, I have written about my experience. I have come to realize the value of our timely attention.

Read ‘Why Your Attention Matters’ here.

Waiting endlessly has no meaning

I remember an incident from my career. Chosen as a mentee in a Global Mentoring Program, I was paired up with a mentor from Australia. While other mentees were already having their meetings, my mentor never responded to my meeting requests. When I did not receive any response for over 4 weeks, I sought the help of the Mentoring Program Team to reassign another mentor to me. As a result of my timely escalation, I got a new mentor.

In my case, I didn’t want to wait any longer assuming, ‘I thought you are busy!’

Beyond a point, the wait was meaningless. It was my career, after all. And I was committed to my career.


Does this post resonate with you?

Do let me know if I could coach you to take charge of your career and life without waiting endlessly for something to happen.

Write to me at [email protected].

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