By Damali Peterman, CEO of Breakthrough ADR
Are you excited, anxious or a little bit of both as your paid time off (PTO) approaches this holiday season? You know the drill– you are technically off, but will still have to be responsible for your matters. You may have to answer emails, schedule calls and meetings, submit work or manage clients. If you are trying to figure out a way to tell someone how to respect your boundaries so that you can truly disconnect this vacation cycle, Breakthrough ADR has a solution. Here is our playbook for how you can “OWN” you time this upcoming vacation season!
O- Open the discussion.
Do not assume that your boss, colleagues, clients, patients, students, partners, or vendors know how important this holiday, trip or just time away from the office is to you. Tell them. Make it clear what your plans and/or expectations are for your time off. Be sure to pick the right time and medium (email, in-person, phone, etc.) to have this conversation. Do not broach this subject after the person has received bad news, at the end of the day or on the day that your vacation is supposed to start. Find the ideal moment to make your case.
W- Wait for their response.
Do not start conceding points or suggesting a quid pro quo at the beginning. Stop talking after your opening statement and wait for them to respond. First, their answer just might surprise you. Second, being silent will also give you a moment to fully gauge their reaction and gather your thoughts before your next move. Usually, the person will expressly state or imply what is important to them in their response. Are you starting a precedent, i.e., if they do this for you, will they have to do it for everyone else? Are they worried about the work piling up? Client satisfaction? Let them tell you their concerns before you offer suggestions.
N- Negotiate if necessary.
After you have listened to them and understand their point of view, it’s time to negotiate. Now you are operating from a powerful place because you have a good sense of their interests (why they need something) versus their positions (what they say they want). If you remain unclear on where they are coming from, ask them before you enter the negotiation phase. If you have clarity, offer the items that you considered leading with in your opening assuming those suggestions are still relevant. For example, tell them how you have planned for the work to be covered by other people or how you have prepared the internal and external teams in advance. If you are the only person who can do what you do, consider whether you want to have a set schedule during your PTO suggesting times when you are available and “do not disturb” times to give them some guidelines. In all cases, remember that you still have to go back to work or face clients after your PTO ends. Do not do anything that will jeopardize your reputation.
This is how you OWN your time and achieve work/ life balance this holiday season.