Beware the time suckers - how to deal with people who waste your time

We all know them, the space invaders, the time suckers, the creepy too friendly people at work. They waste your time, make you feel uncomfortable and make you say and do things you don’t want to. A lot of people have issues with setting and maintaining boundaries with others. Boundaries are the physical, mental and emotion ‘line’ between us and other people.

Office GossipSome people’s boundaries are too rigid and they push people away and some are too sloppy and this allows other people to violate your boundaries and get into your personal space.

The good news is that once you are aware you can do something to enforce your boundaries and teach others to treat you appropriately. Here’s some top tips:


Get to know your boundaries. This may sound obvious but it’s normal for people not to know this. You only know when someone has violated them because it doesn’t feel right or you end up wasting time on something that’s not important. What’s OK for you and what’s not? Be clear on what you think is appropriate behaviour towards you at work.

Develop behavioural cues that give people the message you want to convey, for example:

  • Stepping towards someone who is being aggressive or angry will assert your position and stop them in their tracks.
  • Use a hand gesture that signals this conversation is finishing.
  • Use a voice tone or set of words that signals this conversation is finished.
  • By developing consistent cues, people will soon unconsciously learn them without you having to verbal tell them.

If you are speaking to someone at your desk and the phone rings - do you answer it? The covert message you give is that you pay attention to what is most important, so if you pick up the phone you are telling the person at your desk that the call is more important than them - is this the message you want to give. There’s no right or wrong just make sure you are giving the message you intend.

Maintain relationships by respecting other people, even if they are violating your boundaries. Rather than just cutting them off, find kind ways to tell them.

People will react to you setting boundaries at first, you might get labelled as ‘boring’ or ‘no fun’ but that’s just because they can’t play their games with you any more. Be consistent and keep going, start with small things if you’re concerned about how other people will react and over time you will be able to set effective boundaries with others and never be invaded again.

For more hints and tip about setting strong boundaries, we highly recommend the book Difficult People made Easy by Eleanor Shakiba, which is available on Amazon.

Learning NLP will help you develop these skills whilst integrating them into your personality so that you are congruent and authentic. Join one of our Free Webinars to find out more. 

Read Karen and John’s book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever for more tips on communicating your time boundaries, managing other people’s requests and asking for help. Its available in paperback and e book version from bookshops, Amazon and directly from Monkey Puzzle.

Last modified onTuesday, 11 July 2017 17:59
Karen Meager

Founder of Monkey Puzzle and an INLPTA NLP Master Trainer, Karen is also a UKCP registered Psychotherapist and author of the award winning book Real Leaders for the Real World. Her new book Time Mastery; Banish Time Management Forever is out now.

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