How To Determine When A Conversation Is Over

by drjim on May 8, 2014

You have to know when you've reached the end of a conversation

You have to know when you’ve reached the end of a conversation
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Your time is valuable. It turns out that the time of the people that you report to is also valuable. A big part of the job of being an IT manager is both having conversations with your staff and you having conversations with your management. In both cases every conversation will come to an end. You need to have the IT manager skills to be sensitive enough to pick up on the signals that your boss is sending to you tell you that it’s over and you need to know how to send the same message to your team.

How Your Boss Tells You To Go Away

Meetings with your senior management are an important way to discover what is expected of your team and to advance your career. However, if you haven’t had the IT manager training that taught you how to pay attention to what your boss is really telling you, you may find yourself doing more harm than good to your career prospects. That’s why we all need to become better at picking up on what our management is trying to tell us.

Every conversation that you have with your boss will have a beginning, a middle, and an end. It’s your ability to pick up on when the end has arrived that may hold the key to your eventual promotion. The last thing that any boss wants to do is to have to keep talking with you when they have other things that they need to be doing.

This means that when you are talking with your boss, you need to always be on the lookout for the signs that the conversation is over. Indicators include when your boss gets his or her mobile phone out and holds it as though they are getting ready to make a call, picks up a piece of paper and looks like they want to sit down and start to read it, or if they suddenly stand up and wait for you to do the same.

How To Get Your Team To Leave You Alone

Just as knowing when a conversation with your boss has reached its end, so too is it important that you know how to communicate to your team that a conversation or IT team building session with you is now over. You can use all of the same techniques that your boss uses with you to wrap your own conversations up.

Another great way to place bounds on the conversations that you have with your team has to do with what you do at the start. Before the conversation starts, let everyone involved know that you have limited time. If you tell them when you need to start to work on something else, then you can wrap up the conversation when that time arrives.

Sometimes a more direct approach is called for. There will be times that the person that you are talking with is just not getting any of the “wrap it up” signals that you are sending to them. When this happens, you need to be forthright. You can say something like ‘‘I have really enjoyed the conversation, but I am sure we both have a lot we need to get done.’’ This is direct, to the point, and you’ll get your message across.

What All Of This Means For You

The art of communication is a key skill that every IT manager needs to take the time to master. However, every conversation has a start, a middle, and, of course, an end. We need to be able to detect when conversations that we are involved in are over and we need to be able to end the ones that we are running.

When you are meeting with someone who is in your senior management structure, you need to always to be keeping your eyes open for the tell-tale signs that they are done talking to you. You also have to be skilled enough to communicate in a polite way to your team members when you want a conversation that you’ve been having with them to wrap up.

If you are not careful, you can both overstay your welcome when talking with your boss and have too much of your day taken up in conversations with your team. Master the subtle art of knowing when a conversation is over and you’ll be able to do a much better job of managing both your career and your time.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you ever think that it would be appropriate to ask your boss if a conversation is over?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Congratulations, you are an IT manager. Now what? All too often good technical workers find that they get “rewarded” for a job well done by being promoted into their very first management position. That would be fine if they had the IT manager skills that they needed for this job, but all too often that’s not the case. Instead, they find themselves with new responsibilities and no owner’s manual.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Seattle Careers May 20, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Love this article which is useful not only to IT managers but to all businesspeople.

I linked to it in an article on my blog. See: http://seattle-career.com/improve-your-workplace-communication-to-advance-your-career/

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drjim May 23, 2014 at 9:54 am

Thanks for the link!

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