The 2-Minute Promise: How To Get Busy Leaders To Talk To You

Many years ago, I went to see my Governor at the Government Lodge in Abuja without an appointment. When I stepped into the reception, as usual, it was packed full of people waiting to see the Governor; and, once again, I marveled at how our leaders are able to accommodate and see this number of people everyday.

Since I was no longer the chief press secretary (I had become DG/PM Special Projects), I couldn’t just walk in and see the Governor. So I sat down with the rest of the guests and top government functionaries.

Luckily for me, the Governor came out briefly and I stood and greeted him.

“Doctor, you are also here?” He asked.
“Yes, Sir. I want to see you but I only need two minutes,” I said.

“Only two minutes?” He asked.
“Yes, Sir!” I responded.
“Ah! In that case, come through. I will see you now.”

I went in and in two minutes, I was done; but the Governor detained me and we talked for 30 minutes to one hour.

As I was coming out, one of the ladies I met there (a giant of a woman and powerful looking) said to me:

“Two minutes really? Well you have taught me something; next time I will also say I need only two minutes.”

While it’s a good thing that the woman should learn something from the experience, she misunderstood the intentions behind my technique.

I genuinely wanted to see the Governor for two minutes only. It isn’t my fault if my principal enjoyed talking to me and decided to spend more time.

Leaders genuinely don’t have time. Therefore, even doing nothing and starring into space is more productive to them than endless meetings. If you understand their relationship with time, you would honour it, respect it and know how to request it.

Hence, the 2-Minute Promise.

I found that even the busiest leaders can give you 120 seconds and squeeze you into their schedule.

It works even with phone call. If you suspect that the leader may not answer your call, send a text to tell them to allow you to call them for only two minutes.

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Ibraheem Dooba, PhD

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