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Ask Abi column answers burning questions by assistants


Our Ask Abi columnist, Abigail Jones, a career EA, answers burning questions by assistants sent to us by PAs and EAs. Abi currently works at Spotify and also provides professional coaching and mentoring to individuals and corporate groups…



Abigail Jones


How to make your executive prioritise your one-to-one meetings?

Thank you for writing in with your question. It’s a tough one isn’t it? It’s a mix of perceived urgency and importance conflicting with politeness and prioritisation. I think there are a few ways of approaching this.

Depending on your relationship with your Executive, you could say something along the lines of: “I’ve noticed that we often don’t get our full 1:2:1 slot.

Shall we move it to another day or time that would suit you better, when there are less likely to be interruptions?”

Or you could say: “Our time is incredibly useful and its invaluable time which I need to support you to the best of my abilities. If that time is reduced, I don’t get all the information I need to do that’.

You could also try writing an agenda for your 1:2:1 meetings so both of you can see how much there is to discuss, and equally that way they can see what is not being tackled due to interruptions. Part of your role as an EA is to maximise the time you have during your 1:1 and to manage and communicate the importance of that meeting.

Context is everything when

What are these calls and interruptions your Executive is taking?

Are they personal?

Are they business critical?

Is it an important client?

I think it would be a great way to demonstrate your understanding if you knew what they were, so you can help your Executive prioritise your time in the 1:1, and if necessary, put the phone on ‘do not disturb’.

My final suggestion would be to hold time in the Executive’s diary straight after your meeting so that if you are interrupted, then there is some over-flow time you can use, instead of going straight into another meeting.

Fundamentally, this is a question about communication – if they are prioritising other people’s communication, then it’s time to speak up and establish your voice.

We want to receive more burning questions from assistants

What’s troubling you in your assistant role? Send your burning questions for Abi, to be published in our autumn issue?

All questions are handled in total confidence and your anonymity is guaranteed.

Email our editor Marja-Leena on with a subject line ‘Ask Abi’

Follow Abi on Instagram at @thepacoach


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