Dealing with lightning-fast responders

January 26, 2022

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How do you deal with the colleague who’s always quick to respond to your boss and seems to show you up?

We’ve all had them – the teammate who seems to always be on email/Teams/Slack and when a superior asks a question, they’re lightning fast at responding?

At least part of you probably feels like maybe you also need to camp out on chat/email to make sure that you also respond lighting fast. If that’s what gets credit, maybe that’s what you should do, too?

The problem with that approach is that incessantly keeping an eye on your inbox/Slack/Teams undermines your ability to focus and get your real work done.

So, what do you do?

I’d love to get you to a place where you’re not stressed out about the colleague responding AND also not having to go to that person’s level.

Next time you need to get real work done, don’t interrupt your focus with chats/email. Instead, focus on the real work. If you want, set a 45-minute timer and focus without ANY distractions during that time (no email, no chat, no calls – turn those alerts OFF).

After the 45 minutes, if you see an email/chat conversation involving the lightening fast coworker and your boss, read through it and respond with something like:

“I’m catching up on this after focusing on [e.g., drafting a deck for Client XYZ’s meeting on Friday]. I think [colleague J] gave you some great answers. The one thing I would add is [e.g., that the documents for the presentation are due by 2pm tomorrow. You have the drafts in your inbox – let me know if I can help you finalize them before you send them off.].”

Here’s why I like this approach: In addition to protecting your focus time and still having you look like a team player…

It actually elevates you. You are not someone who merely reactive-mode chats all day. You get real work done. And you’re not just saying, “sorry for the delay – I was working on something else!” You’re reminding them what that real work you’re accomplishing. You’re making your real work visible.

Wins all around!

So, if you know an annoyingly-lightning-fast employee all too well and it stresses you out, give something like this a whirl. And let me know how it goes!

We talk about things like this in my group program – if this is interesting to you and are curious about what working together further could look like, you can find more information here.

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