An insidious tactic of someone who’s trying to disrupt your priority list is an appeal to “they”. It’s always an anonymous and shadowy group, and all that you can be sure is that “they” are important, and “they” want something.
The only way to defend against this is with a spirit of coaching, and to start following interest. Make sure to stay positive, and start out by discovering who “they” are. Is this group of people important to you and your team? Are they people that you want or need to keep happy, or are they just fishing for resources? Where do they sit in your stakeholder map?
Next up, get into the why. Why are these people coming to you? What’s stopping them going through normal channels or using their own resources to get this thing done.
Consider offering to take up the discussion directly with “they”. It’s exciting to see how often the request is actively coming from the group, versus their name used in vain to add weight to another agenda. Sometimes just asking this is enough to make the request go away entirely!
Once you give in to requests from “they”, then you’ll find your time is ever more devoted to the whims of others. With some gently probing questions, you take back the power to prioritise effectively and deliver more value sooner. Don’t let “them” win.