What happens to your time, your spirit, and your feeling of self-worth when someone takes a call or another walk-in during your appointment time with them? It’s not good. It’s not only seriously rude, and a time-waster for you—it can also be very de-moralizing! Whether or not that person intended it—you’ve received a message that the other person calling or walking in is more important that you are!
I believe that people do not mean to do that. They don’t intend to be rude and don’t want to insult you—they just don’t realize that’s what’s happening. People often take a call or see another visitor out of force of habit, not realizing or intending to diminish your importance. However, another person’s poor time and task management shouldn’t be your problem.
Placing the burden of proper time management and sometimes, good manners, where it belongs means “training” the other person and encouraging appropriate behavior. A technique that works well is to offer the person you are meeting with some “privacy.” As soon as it’s obvious that this is not a quick interruption, stand up, smile genuinely (this is very important), and use body language to indicate that you’re leaving. The other person will either immediately get rid of the interruption or seek you out right away to apologize and finish your discussion.
If you are asked why you left, an honest reply of, “Since our meeting was interrupted, I felt that I should use my time productively until you were free again.”
It rarely takes more than twice for that person to get the message—my time is an important as yours. Several good things will come from this. You will be not be wasting your time waiting, and you will have helped a colleague re-train to more courteous, more respectful behavior. It’s likely that many others who have the same experiences with that person would also thank you!