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How To Deal With The Person In Your Office Who Makes Everything An Emergency

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  • Not every work deadline deserves a five-alarm treatment. Here's how to speak up.

Source | | Monica Torres | HuffPost US

Everybody knows or has had that one colleague who makes it their job to wage an urgent war for your attention. Their email subject lines may read “URGENT” in all caps and include exclamation points. They may contact you after-hours, or in between your other responsibilities, demanding you drop everything, because they need this done tomorrow. They clearly feel their priorities supersede your priorities. They’re a time-draining nuisance, and they need to be stopped. 

You know you need to speak up to set expectations or boundaries or simply save your sanity, but you also know that you need to preserve a collegial relationship. How can you do both? Career experts and a psychologist explain how you can stop letting someone else’s urgent stress from becoming your own.  

When The Person Is Your Colleague 

You cannot control your colleague’s reactions to tasks and deadlines, but you can control your own. “Anxiety is contagious, stress is contagious, but so is calm,” said Monique Reynolds, a clinical psychologist at the Center for Anxiety and Behavioral Change

Reynolds said people often keep silent in the face of someone’s constant urgent requests because of a “reactive fear-based response that says, ‘I have 15 other things to do, but I can’t say anything, because this person will be upset, or they will think that I’m not competent in my job.’” If that is what is driving you, the next time this person reaches out with an emergency, take a step back in the moment and ground yourself so that your response will be less reactive.

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