It’s an interesting line to walk – people vs. time.

Which one do you prioritize?

One could argue either way, really.

If you’re on a meeting with someone, and it’s scheduled for 30 minutes, and it runs over because you prioritized the person on the meeting, what does that indicate to the person on your next meeting that you’re now late to?

If you prioritize time and make sure that everything starts and ends precisely on time, then what does that indicate to the person you’re meeting with who’s walking through a really heavy thing and could use extra support and tender care in the moment?

Talk about a conundrum!

BUT, great news – we have discernment for exactly this kind of scenario!

For those who know me as “Susan By-when-nan”, you know I’m strict with timelines. AND, those same people know me as “Susan of “Growth and Grace”” where there’s grace extended, as not everything goes exactly according to plan all the time.

Folks, it can be both. You can prioritize time AND people.

There will be times when you’ll be strict with timelines, and you can always schedule a follow-up with people if the conversation didn’t get wrapped up in the scheduled time.

AND, there will be times where you’ll adjust other plans to spend extra time with someone, and it may mean crunch time (or projects getting placed on the back burner for the time being), while you prioritize that person.

Both can work great, and both can be a bit of an art to establish boundaries and flow between the two.

Don’t beat yourself up as you navigate this line.

Here are a few helpful ways to communicate with people when you need to adjust and/or set boundaries:

⏰ (at the start of a meeting) “we’ve got 15 minutes for our call, so let’s dive right in”
⏰ (at the end of a scheduled time) “I am aware that we’re right at the end of our time together – I’ve still got a few minutes if you do, or we can get another time scheduled to wrap up.”
⏰ (in the middle of a conversation when you can tell it needs further attention than you’d originally set aside for it) “I want to be sensitive here, as I can see there’s a lot more to get into than we’d originally set time aside for, and I really care. I’d like us to do a quick “pause” so I can communicate my adjusted schedule to a couple of people. I’ll be back with you in just a few moments so we can continue.”

So much of this has to do with TONE and how you lead the conversation. 

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but it’s totally okay to set boundaries around conversations, and communicate the expectations up front to make sure you’re all on the same page. And it’s not rude to (respectfully) interrupt someone who’s gone off topic and loop the conversation back to its original intent – in fact, if you’re the leader, that’s actually the expectation (that you will keep the meeting on track).

This could so easily turn into a novel, so we’ll wrap with this point: always choose PEOPLE, and be flexible in how that translates in each situation!