Crucial Skills®

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Crucial Conversations for Mastering Dialogue

Crucial Applications: Revenge on the Vanishing Vacation

Summer vacation time is on its way out and the doldrums of winter are settling in. Have you taken your much-needed vacation yet? If not, you’re not alone. It seems corporate America is experiencing a vanishing vacation pandemic. In an effort to get ahead and secure finance and job security in a volatile economy, managers and employees are demonstrating an unconventional devotion to their jobs and sacrificing vacation with the family for time in the office.

Due to social pressures and economic conditions, people are afraid to speak up for their vacation privileges. According to a VitalSmarts survey, only half of survey respondents actually speak up and ask for support and permission to take a vacation. And, alarmingly, past research shows employees who harbor these kinds of concerns and feel unable to speak up about them eventually quit.

But it’s not too late to speak up now and get the time off you deserve. If you’re suffering from the vanishing vacation, use these communication tips to reclaim your vacation without relinquishing job security or allowing work to overtake your life.

  1. Hold the right conversation. Don’t just talk about the time off you want, talk about what it truly means to take time off. If you are required to take the office with you in the form of e-mails and conference calls, you never truly leave the office.
  2. Ask for what you really want. We tend to significantly understate the importance of our vacation, so who can blame a boss and other coworkers for giving a lukewarm response? If you fail to express your wants candidly, you are part of the problem.
  3. Be inflexibly supportive. When asking for time off, be clear about what is negotiable and what is not. If the timing of your vacation is flexible, say so. But if the amount of uninterrupted time you want off is not, make that clear as well. This approach will not make employees appear belligerent if they clearly state they are willing to do all they can for the boss and the company short of compromising vacation goals.
  4. Maintain boundaries. After getting agreement to your vacation plans, be prepared for niggling encroachments. At the first sign of infringement, go back to tip number one and hold the “right conversation.” Hold others accountable to the commitments they made, while being “inflexibly supportive” of their needs and concerns.

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