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Why I Don't Say "I'm Busy" Anymore

I don’t say “I’m busy” anymore. Automatically, at least. Here’s why.

I found myself saying “I’m busy” automatically to questions like “How are you?” or “What are you doing?” way too often. The “I’m busy” syndrome programmed my mind to be unavailable for the person right in front of me. With such a statement, I was informing the other person not to disturb my “unclear but certainly important work I’m focusing on”. It was my achievement mentality kicking in, automatically upholding the immediate work as more important than the relationship with the person who is trying to connect with me.

Lost Opportunity.

I had begun to notice these moments happened a lot – especially with the people I cared about – for example, my kids. They walk away. Sometimes, I catch a disappointed sigh. Slowly, they stopped asking altogether. I have reached the “Danger Zone” of our relationship.

As a coach, I notice this phenomenon rampant in the workplace as well. Many people managers use the “I’m busy” to discourage unwanted interruptions to their “important work”, building boundaries and at the same time wanting to more connection with their team members. That’s like throwing the baby out with the bathwater!

I have attempted to explain to myself that I am a “very focused person” and I am fully absorbed by what I do. Upon reflection, the truth is at that very moment, I chose activity X over a relationship because I was short-sighted and was in an Auto-mode. I chose short term productivity over an opportunity to build a longer-term relationship. Relationships are built in micro touchpoints.

Anyway, I decided for me, it’s a habit. And it’s a habit that is worth breaking. How much has changed since!! My relationships are stronger. My productivity higher. And I am much happier capturing my life’s moments with a lot more presence.

So now, when anyone asks me “How are you” or “What are you doing?”

Here’s my new “3S” Approach:
Stop what I am doing.
Shift my presence to that person who cared enough to ask.

And that is enough to break my “I’m busy” spell!

Try it if you find yourself in an “I’m Busy” mode. It’s simple, easy and most importantly, gives you back your choice of response. A small change can go a long way.


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