Sorry I got our meeting time wrong, I’d read your message on my i-phone
Could you please resend the document – I deleted it from my phone
Sorry I responded in that tone, I read your message on my phone and responded immediately
Do any of these comments sound familiar to you?
We live in a world of instant communication and our expectations for sending and receiving emails/texts or other messages are such that we think, any communication, as long as its instant is better than nothing.
Do you find yourself trying to do more than one thing at a time in order to keep up with this instant communication world? You might be sitting in a meeting trying to take in the new budget being presented by the finance department while also checking email on your smartphone and responding to a text message from home about dinner tonight.
You may sit at dinner at home trying to catch up with the family while reading and responding to emails about client requests and meetings tomorrow.
Do you find yourself trying to do more than one thing at a time in order to keep up with this instant communication world?
The limitations of the brain
Our brains have a limited capacity for multi-tasking. We literally cannot focus effectively on more than a few things at one time. Notice I use the word ‘effectively’. Yes we can all multi-task and you probably are capable of sitting in the meeting while emailing and texting someone else. But can you truly take in what is being said in the meeting while considering the contents of an email and respond appropriately? The answer is all too often NO. Research shows that the more we ask our brain to do at one time, the more overloaded it becomes, and the less effective is becomes.
Although you may have normally strong communication skills, when you try to multi-task you loose some that strength. Something has to give. And that is often effective communication – not to mention your stress levels and health.
This is where normally good communicators loose the ability to pick up the details or nuances of a message. Specifics, meeting times and information get missed and frustration on both sides results. Nuances, tone and normal red flags get missed because we are in a hurry to respond.
What’s the answer? I’m not suggesting that you don’t use a smartphone. I have one and couldn’t live without it. But you can step back from the expectation of instant communication and wait until you can focus on what you’re reading before responding. Or if the need to communicate instantly is overwhelming (also a distraction for the brain) send a brief message. I’m in a meeting and will get back to you later. Then (and this is the important bit) switch your phone OFF. This will allow your brain the space it needs to focus on the meeting – or the family meal.
Let’s be brain smart communicators rather than just smartphone communicators.
What are you’re techniques for using your brain and your smartphone effectively?