Many years ago I worked for an ADHD boss. He had the attention span of a gnat. Actually gnats are more persistent/consistent than he was. He would simultaneously hold multiple conversations during meetings to the point of total confusion. He was brilliant in many respects, but in terms of giving someone/something his undivided attention it never happened. Ever try to catch a butterfly by hand with no net? It’s next to impossible because they fleet and flit to and fro. This gentleman was the same.
Imagine giving someone directions from Charlotte to Nashville and half-way through they decide to go to Birmingham? Or, you are talking about a capital expansion project with an entire team of people who are all on the same page, but then you make a hard right to discuss organizational culture. Blindsided. No one saw it coming. Get the idea? Chances are you have experienced this with a client, co-worker, or family member.
One of the inherent dangers of a digitally driven culture is the intrusion of all things electronic. A sense of immediacy, or 24/7 availability has replaced a sense of being IN the moment. Being present, aware, engaged with unrivaled attention seems to be no longer valued as immediate availability. We tend to feed the dog that barks the loudest and most recent. Just because someone can text, email, or call a device in your pocket, or purse, doesn’t mean you need to respond or answer immediately. Doing so in the middle of a presentation, or meeting is ill-mannered and bad form.
Think about it is a reminder to pick up the kids from soccer that important over the sales call you are making at 10am? Is the latest tweet from your favorite NFL player worth it? When we allow unrelated intrusions or interruptions to cut across our immediate focus, or the object of attention, we are sending a message to that co-worker, vendor, client, or customer. And the perceived message is simple: Something/someone more important has come up. It may not be the intention, but it’s the perception.
Wise leaders exercise discipline and restraint in this area as they model the priority of being IN the moment for their people. For example, during a meeting with several team members and a prospective client she leaves her smartphone on her desk, or on silent in her purse. She is signaling to the rest of the team who’s important at that moment, the client, not her. And watch what she does when she has an ill family member. She turns to the client and says, “I apologize, but my aunt is having surgery today in Ohio and I have to keep my phone with me to get the results.”
Being In the moment is something that seems like a lost art. It ranks right up there with photo bombing a bride and groom’s first dance picture which someone has paid a photographer a lot of money to capture the moment.
Did you know you can miss the moment digitally? One on one, or meeting presence is vital, but so is your digital presence. If you are not paying attention you can miss a great opportunity to blog, make a social media post, or react to something that contributes to the bottom line, or is a potential lead generator. I can hear my 7th grade English teacher right now, “Boys and girls, pay attention!” And Mrs. Short (aptly named) was right. We soon learned that whenever she said that something important was coming our way involving some future assignment, or test. The point is listening well. Practice listening and you will always be IN the moment. Great sales and customer service reps have one trait in common. They are nearly always great listeners. They stay in the moment to hear what the client wants and then they provide solutions.
The same is true for your digital media platforms. Pay attention and listen. You will discover a treasure trove of gold even if there isn’t a buy, or deal that day. I was once on a sales call for a significant promotion involving vendor coop. The buyer’s son had just broken his arm in a football game. We didn’t get the sale that day, but I followed up with a card wishing her son well and the next time the promotion came around she bought for her major beverage client. Did that seal the deal? Probably not, because we offered a lot of value in the next promotion, but she would later remark that I remembered her son.
If you are a police officer, doctor, nurse, teacher, student, plumber, engineer, or waiter, focus and choose to intentionally stay IN the moment. You will be amazed at what you hear and learn. You will be able to provide solutions. If I had one skill to go back and refine, improve and work on over and over, it would be to be a better listener. Oops gotta run someone is texting me about college football.
Storyteller for WebSpeak Media
102 Trade Street
Greer, SC 29651
(Images on Unsplash Mimi Thian & Emiliano Vittoriosi)