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Your organization expects great results, not just great relationships.  Throughout the day people may plop themselves in your office and want to chit chat.  Of course, you want to get along with people, but you also have to get things done.  How do we handle drop-in visitors?

Let’s take a look at some causes for drop-in visitors:  Open-door policy.

No plan for handling drop-in visitors.  Desire to be available.  Fear of offending.  Inability to terminate visits.

Here are some possible solutions for handling drop-in visitors.

Develop a plan to screen and arrange appointments.  Tell them politely, if you are busy at the moment, to come back later and set a specific appointment time.  Distinguish between being available for business and for socializing.  Plan social visits at coffee or lunch.

Modify your open door policy by closing it as needed for periods of concentration.  Recognize “open door” does not necessarily mean physically open, but open to those who need assistance.  Manage by exception.  Accept information concerning only deviations from the plans.

If possible, meet coworkers outside your office.  If people do enter your work area, stand up and keep standing.  Preset a time limit for the visit.  Say, “I have just a couple of minutes, what’s going on?”  If they don’t leave promptly, walk them back to their work area.  Foreshadow the end of the conversation by saying, “Is there anything else before I leave?”  Then excuse yourself and leave.

Limiting the time taken by drop-in visitors requires courtesy, good judgment, and tact.  You don’t want to be rude, however, you need to protect our schedule.  Scripting a few statements that help to send drop-in visitors on their way will minimize the frustration of working with others, and support your high individual performance.

Kit Welchlin, M.A., CSP, is a nationally recognized professional motivational speaker and author and can be found at