When is the last time you sat down to discuss a topic with a friend and they gave you their full attention? Did you look at each other eyes and actively listen to each other without being interrupted by a cell phone or email or text message?
Coworkers are the worst offenders. I can’t think of the last time I had a meeting with a coworker when we made it five minutes before his phone rang or someone knocked at the door or an email arrived that couldn’t wait to be read.
When you take that call you tell the person with whom you’re currently conversing “This call is more important than you are”. Have these people heard of voicemail? Who says you have to take the call anyway? The culture at Microsoft is one where people are expected to multi-task which is another way of saying, “Do a mediocre job on a lot of tasks instead of a stellar job on one or two”.
I attended a meeting yesterday with three people and I was the only one who brought along a pad of paper and pen while they all had laptops. I lost count of the number of times someone said, “Can you repeat that?” because they were busying emailing instead of listening. Why schedule a meeting if you’re going to sit there and do email? The next time this happens I’m going to excuse myself and go back to my office. At least in my office I can listen to Pink Floyd.
My four year old daughter has a longer attention span and is a better listener than most people I interact with at work. She will look at me when I talk to her. She won’t look down at her toys or run off to a friend who might have something more interesting to discuss. She’s there – living in the moment.
My grandmother didn’t grow up with a computer or iPod or cell phone. Maybe that’s one reason I love talking with her about anything. She focuses on me and only me and I feel like the most important person in the world. She has a way of tuning out surrounding distractions. I love spending time with her, and I know she will give me her full attention.
What types of children are we raising today when we, through example, show them it’s OK to get up in the middle in a conversation and answer the phone or check our Blackberry or respond to a text message? Just maybe it’s not the Playstation or Xbox or Nintendo games that are the problem rather it’s the adults and our failing to give them our full attention that’s leading to so many kids with ADD.