Are You There? Are You Here?
I was almost involved in a collision recently. New Jersey is a traffic-intensive state, to be sure, but this had nothing to do with my car. It was actually a near-miss with another pedestrian who was oblivious to the environment as she walked rapidly through our office building lobby, head down, all attention focused on “thumb typing” into her iPhone.
Unfortunately, this has become a common occurrence in our busy building as people get on and off elevators without ever looking up from their screens, stop in the middle of the parking lot to read a new message, or block others’ passage as they wander through corridors responding to the latest text. They are in the building physically, but mentally far, far away.
How about your environment? Are you there, but not here? Are you glued to your iPad or cellphone during meetings? Are you so mesmerized by your emails, text messages, tweets, and Facebook notifications that you are seldom, if ever, 100% engaged in what’s going on around you? In short, are you making more eye contact with your device screen than with your employees and colleagues?
If so, what message are you sending to those around you? A relatively simple one: What’s on that screen is more important and interesting than what they are saying or doing. That may not be what you are thinking, but it is the message you are sending, loud and clear. And unlike sinful behavior, in communications, perception is as important as intent.
Communication―or the lack thereof―is cited as one of the biggest problems in business today. That’s ironic, because it is also one of the easiest and least expensive to fix. Good communication begins with caring enough about others to share information with them in a clear, timely, respectful fashion. And it means giving them enough of your attention to allow them to do the same with you.
The next time you think of multitasking simultaneously in the physical and electronic worlds, stay focused and safe―and make the world a little safer, more respectful, and more productive for those around you―by remaining firmly planted in the here and now.