Dealing with Delay In The Art of Persuasion

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Dealing with Delay In The Art of Persuasion

May 4, 2009 Persuasion 2

ughmooghPicking up from last week’s posts on objections, today we’re talking about time. Specifically, talking to people who tell you they don’t have time.  Because when people tell you they don’t have time to talk, or that it’s the wrong time to talk, there are at least two reasons for their time objection.  It’s either about delay or detail.

When you hear someone seeking to put off a conversation with you, using the objection, ‘I don’t have time for this right now,” the intent is either to keep from having to hear your proposition until you give up and go away (depending on who you are, how you talk and how often you ask others to listen, this could be quite common), or they realize that there are details missing that require more time and attention than they have at the moment and they want to be able to give you their full attention.  In either case, it’s a good idea to assume the best and say that you understand the desire to delay hearing it.  Let the person know that you appreciate that he recognizes the importance of giving your proposal the attention it deserves, even if you suspect he doesn’t. 

Because the next step is to find a time.  Ask, “When is a better time?”  

They say, “I don’t have time right now.”  You say, “Thank you for being honest.  I appreciate that you recognize it is important enough to deserve your full attention.”  Give them a moment to receive the appreciation, then say, “When is a good time?”  If they say, “I don’t know right now,”  it  is in your interest to keep some control by making the first step towards the next contact instead of waiting for it to happen for you.  Put it together and it sounds like this.   Say, “No problem.  When is a good time to get back to you about finding the right time?” 

If the objection is that what you propose would take too much time to implement, find out how much time is wasted under the current system. If the objection is that there isn’t enough time to implement your idea that’s a signal that more detail is needed about how it can work.  

In each case, you have the opportunity to take a next step in handling the objection.  And in my case, I’m out of time!  Your comments, as always, are welcome!


Be well,


2 Responses

  1. kate jackson says:


    I had a fun experience with this on Monday myself. I called a person I wanted to talk with and we started chatting. Then he got distracted and hesitant, said he was busy, so I asked if there was a better time we could talk later in the day. The evening did not work for me, so we agreed on 3 p.m. I asked what phone number to call him on. When I called, right on time, and asked if this was still a good time, he said no not really. I asked when would be better and we agreed on 3 pm in 24 hours. Twenty minutes later, he called me back, and had two more people on a speaker phone for the conversation!! I engaged all three of them in my effort to understand their points of view, their reasons for taking action and their ideas for going forward.

    Seems to me the person I called wanted support in having the discussion with me. This is an ongoing difficult relationship because we have different opinions and people are uncomfortable keeping the professional separate from the personal. (There are no personal relationships in this situation). While I could have felt put upon because they outnumbered me or whatever , I was happy to have the opportunity to talk with the group of them together. I learned much that I needed to by going with how he needed to have the conversation.

    What do you think?


    • Excellent, Kate. Funny how the time suddenly appeared when you demonstrated your commitment to having the conversation. And three people keeps it from getting personal, so I think that worked out well. Interesting feedback that someone feels the need for support to talk with you. I’d be curious what that’s about…


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