Where Should You Ask Someone For Approval?


Is it appropriate to ask someone to approve something as the person is in the vicinity of your area or should you wait until that person is at his/her desk (which is in another area)?


Location Question


Dear Location Question:

Your question seems to have a rather logical response: The time to ask for approval is when it is easiest for both people to consider an item, discuss it if needed, and get it approved according to procedures.

However, circumstances vary so much in workplace situations, that even a simple question can have several responses, unless one is right there to know the context.

For example,, if someone is standing next to you and you need their approval for a letter or report, does it not seem appropriate to just ask them for it while they are there? That seems to me to be the best way to handle it.

Carry it further. If they walk away and THEN you get up, leave your area, go to their area and ask them for approval, doesn’t it seem likely they would think it very foolish of you to have waited?

On the other hand, if they are standing by your desk but they have to consult with something on their own desk BEFORE they can give approval, doesn’t it seem logical to let them know what you need approval about and tell them that you’ll send it to them by email or will bring it over to them later, unless they want to take it with them?

Communication and understanding the situation is the key. So, the answer to your question requires context. What is the approval about? What have you or others been told to do in the past? What seems to be the best use of time and energy? It could be that you asked the question because a decision you made about getting approval turned out to be wrong. If that’s the case, perhaps seeing the situation from the other person’s viewpoint would help you understand why it was thought that your actions weren’t the best. Maybe it seemed obvious to them that you should have waited. Or, maybe they felt you shouldn’t have felt the need to get approval for something in the first place.

But, if you feel you did the right thing, maybe the matter isn’t important enough to worry about anyway. Next time you can think through it and do it differently.

Most of the time, work moves forward in spite of bumps in the road and minor misunderstandings. The secret to success is to not stop for too long wondering about the bump. Just keep moving along with the work! Best wishes with this issue.

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina Lewis Rowe

Tina had a thirty-three year career in law enforcement, serving with the Denver Police Department from 1969-1994 and was the Presidential United States Marshal for Colorado from 1994-2002. She provides training to law enforcement organizations and private sector groups and does conference presentations related to leadership, workplace communications and customized topics. Her style is inspirational with humor.