Guest post by Maranda Gibson (learn more about Maranda at the end of this post)
I was thinking the other day about how I’m addicted to multitasking. I was hanging out with a friend, just chatting, and suddenly I realized that I had checked my email about five times in a 20 minute span. Why was I doing that? We use email to communicate but when you have conversation happening right in front of you why would you continue to try to find it somewhere else?
We’re all guilty of doing this at the office too. We have busy schedules, sometimes over working ourselves, getting stretched too thin, and because of that, we often try to juggle many things that we have on our to-do lists. What we don’t realize is that the possibility is there that the multitasking gene could be messing up interaction with our clients, friends, and colleagues.
Learning how to disconnect ourselves from our smartphones can be a one-day-at-a-time process, but here are some things you can do right away to improve your communication with everyone around you, in any format (phone, face to face, conferences, social networking).
- Be a better listener. Think about this: How many times have you been on the phone with another person (be it a friend, your mother, a potential client) and you’re sending emails, checking text messages, reading Twitter streams, or trying to scan through your RSS feeds? Slow it down. When was the last time you have been guilty of checking your phone for emails or texts when someone else is trying to have a conversation with you? Put it away and give the focus to whoever is trying to talk to you, be it over the phone or otherwise.
- Stop talking. As much as it’s important to listen well, it’s equally as important to just stop talking so that someone else can have a chance to speak. What is the point in having conversation if there’s no interaction between you and all the people trying to take part?
- Ask Questions. Not just the stuffy “how does that make you feel” or “why do you think that” stuff either. Ask very poignant and specific questions about what is being talked about. For example if someone is talking about the growing importance of Twitter in marketing, you might ask them if they feel like Facebook has the same reach.
- Make eye contact. Looking at your watch, across the room, or at your feet (even if you do have really great looking shoes) is only translated into being rude. Making eye contact indicates that you are fully interested in the conversation and you are hanging on every word. It’s a huge nonverbal cue to being truly involved in the conversation.
- Speaking of non-verbal communication, don’t cross your arms over your chest. I realize understand that it’s a very comfortable position to take and that you make think it looks relaxed. It very well might be, but the truth is that it is nothing more than a “wall” between you and the person you’re trying to communicate with.
A quick change of some of your habits can make a big difference overnight and who knows – you might even feel like you have a little less going on at once. Not only will it help build your relationships with others, it will also make you feel a little less like you have too many things going on at once.
About the Author
Maranda Gibson is the head writer at AccuConference, a conference call provider located in Fort Worth, Texas. She provides additional tips on communication, presentations, and public speaking on the AccuConference Blog.