Time to Stay and Time to Go

The Importance of Timing in Construction Management

This month, I traveled up north to be with my extended family as we mourned the young life we lost. Not even a quarter of a century on this Earth, he was serving not only his country but also those he met through his short time here on Earth. One young serviceman shared how my now-deceased young cousin had saved his life—not on the military frontlines but in the battlefield of life—when he was in a mentally dark place. The common theme at the celebration of life in the memories shared was that he just seemed to show up when there was a need for a smile, a hug, and a helping hand.

The time on Earth that we, our loved ones, and everyone we come in contact with, in and outside of work, is limited and unknown. Each day, we communicate with others—people who have been in our lives for a lifetime, others a season, and others just in passing. We communicate face-to-face, through email and online, through web chat and social media, through teleconference, text message, video messaging, and handwritten notes, to name a few. The style we select in those communications can be controlling, equally representing, structuring, lively, relinquishing, or often withdrawn.

Navigating Workplace Interactions with Precision

While taking on my workplace responsibilities, interaction with my internal team and those in the coaching and matchmaking process requires me to keep up with their needs while meeting them right where they are in the moment. When challenges occur with getting the best result for both of us, it is most often revealed that there is something going on that is personally hindering their professional engagement. This is where timing comes into play. How we communicate and empower the individuals we interact with daily in the workplace to reschedule, when it comes to continuing the conversation, can and will help our overall relationships and the results of those conversations.

How To Reschedule Meetings in Construction Management

Scheduled events, such as owner meetings, company meetings, or other consultations, that are prearranged and need to be prepared for are not the time to ask. Many impromptu or one-on-one scheduled meetings turn out much differently when both parties can fully engage in the conversation and content of the meeting because you or I took time to open the conversation for that engagement. How do you ensure the other party is fully engaged?

The first thing to consider asking someone would be, “Is this (still) a good time for us to meet, talk, etc.?” If you take time to ask this courtesy question:

  • Be sincere.
  • Listen for their response tone.
  • If in person, observe body language; it may require rephrasing and asking again.

If they choose to continue, and you can tell they are not sincere or prepared, then the onus for their participation in the result lies 100% on them. If they choose to accept your offer to reschedule:

  • Control your reaction to display your sincerity in the offer (even if you are disappointed).
  • Ask what they propose for the new date and time and do your best to accommodate.
  • Accept, especially if it is the first time for this request or not a usual response for this person to postpone, that you will have a better result at the rescheduled meeting.

Ensure Engagement and Deal with Distractions

My workdays are a combination of prescheduled meetings and impromptu touch bases with internal and external people in between. Typically, I make it a point to put this into practice. Our clientele, both those hiring and those planning their mutual farewell and next career step, are giving 100% to their primary responsibilities while making time to elevate their careers. We often need to reschedule for full commitment to the conversation, or we miss critical details that matter. In the construction management workplace, this principle holds true also, despite the typical tight schedules. I know, quite often, we have to reschedule because an owner or inspector just showed up, and that, for sure, takes priority over anything they may need to discuss with you or me at the time. We also know that, in those circumstances, if a person does not accept our offer to reschedule, we might need to request from our end that we would like to, as we need their full attention. Other times to ask to reschedule might be when they are driving and trying to find a location being directed by their GPS. Others could be they need to be there for a family obligation, or they just need to finish something with a critical deadline and are trying to accommodate us.

Use the Time You Have Wisely

Another story told at the celebration of life was that my young cousin was an avid reader and seemed to know when to grab a book and wait for the right time to be there for his friends. Sometimes, he just took on this other activity and waited for them. He also was able to take a leave a month before his passing and chose to spend it with his family, camping at the lake. None of us will ever understand why his time on Earth ended so abruptly. What we do know is he made the most of his short life on Earth when it came to engagements with other people.

Although our time to stay and time to go on Earth is unknown, with each interaction daily, we can take three seconds to ask others we need to take time from if it’s the right time to get the best result.

Author Douglas Stone, in the book Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, states: “Paradoxically, there is also considerable persuasion power in inquiry and listening.”

To The Right Time to Connect,

Suzanne Breistol



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