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The Perception Busy Creates

By November 20, 2016February 14th, 2019Articles, Leadership

“When someone tells you they are “too busy”…..It’s not a reflection of their schedule. It’s a reflection of your spot on their schedule”. Dr Steve Maraboli

A friend of mine asked me if I knew a good accountant the other day. I was a little confused by the question, as I knew she had a good friend who was an accountant and who actually acts for her. So I asked her why she was asking and if there was a problem with him? She told me her colleague was looking to move accountants and her accountant seemed so busy all the time she didn’t feel confident in referring to him. When I asked her what made her think that she explained how he was always delayed in returning calls and responding to emails because he was ‘so busy’ and that didn’t give her any comfort he was in control and would look after her colleague. ‘That’ll do it’ I thought! He might as well have told her she wasn’t important enough.

Busy is the socially expected and accepted response to the question of how are you? What used to be a simple ‘good’ has turned into a barrage of ‘busy, so busy, crazy busy and flat out’. It’s rare to find someone who isn’t busy. And rightly so. If you’re in business, you want to be busy – right? The alternative is rather bleak!

What all of us who are in business need to be really conscious of is the perception busy creates. As in the example above my friend was reluctant to refer her own accountant (and friend) because he was constantly tell her he how busy he was and wasn’t responsive to her calls and messages. Unfortunately, what busy has become is also an excuse. We’re so busy it seems we believe that’s an acceptable excuse for not meeting basic service standards. I don’t think any business can afford to do that in this business environment we’re in. That to me is stupidity.

In my group-mentoring program one of our sessions is focused on busy. When I ask the various groups what they think when people tell them how busy they are the common responses are unorganized, dramatic, poor time manager and ‘whatever’! There have only been a few responses where people have said they thought the person must be successful.

Personally and professionally we are busy. It’s our new normal state, it’s not going to change, and in fact it’s only going to get worse. The challenge is to get a handle on this and change how we are using busy and make it work for us. Do you want to have a leadership or personal brand that is centered around busy? When people are too busy that means:

  • People are reluctant to ask you questions
  • People are reluctant to refer to you
  • People think you’re unorganised
  • You’re not role modeling positive behaviours
  • People think you don’t have time for them
  • People will gradually move away from you
  • You become BORING!

If you want to stand out and stand for something other than busy then I suggest you choose a very different response to ‘how are you?’ or ‘how’s business?’ Get creative and put a positive spin on things. Say ‘ business is booming, things are very successful right now, I’m loving where we’re at’. Anything but busy. At least paint a picture that you’re in control even if you don’t feel that way as yet. Because, to be honest, busy is now beige and boring. And who wants to be beige?