#8) Be Engaged. When we are with the other person, we need to be there with our eyes on him. Listening, and thinking together. Minimize the distractions. Turn off the phone. Give him a full listening.
This is a tough one. Just think about all the distractions we have in our lives on a daily basis. On an hourly basis. We are surrounded by distractions, and it’s not getting easier, it’s getting worse.
I remember the day, at the height of technology in 1991, when my wife sent me a message on my beeper. I was driving. A beeper is one-way communication. I kept driving, looking for the next off ramp. I pulled off, found the nearest pay phone, and called my wife. She was amazed that within 15 minutes I had been able to connect with her on the phone. Technology is incredible! Today, technology is keeping us from “engaging”. When someone calls, messages, Facebook’s , tweets or emails me, there’s an expectation that I should get back to them immediately, and often, if I don’t respond quickly, they will try other means of communication. I’ve learned to keep one ear in a conversation and an eye on my phone, and I’m able to multi-task, and for the most part, people accept this.
I want to tell you today that this is NOT ACCEPTABLE!
We need to fight this trend and we need to choose relationship with the person sitting in front of us instead of choosing communication with people who could literally be around the globe.
Here are 3 thoughts on ENGAGING:
#1) PLAN. It takes work.
When you have a meeting with someone, think about where you’re meeting. Find a place that is quiet and a place that’s comfortable. Don’t go to a loud, busy place. Leave your phone at home or in your car. Let people know that you’re not available for a while, and just leave the distraction. Focus on the person. Communicate how long you’re meeting, and be all there. Don’t assume that it will just happen. It takes work and planning to set up a good coaching session.
#2) BE ACCOUNTABLE. Set some rules.
I was in a meeting the other day and I was expecting an important message. When I sat down with my friend, I simply said, “Hey, I’m expecting an important message within the next 10 minutes, so I’m going to watch my phone for this message. Once I get that message, I’m all hear.” Just be open. If you’re talking to someone and they keep looking at the phone, ask them to put it away. If you’re meeting someplace where you’re likely to run into people you know, talk about that ahead of time. If there’s a big game on the TV behind you, go someplace else. Just set some rules and follow them. People respect that. However, I encourage you to do all you can to avoid these distractions ahead of time. In my case, I should have rescheduled the meeting, but I couldn’t, so I just laid it out there.
#3) EVALUATE YOUR PURPOSE. Identify your motivation.
Sometimes we’re in conversations where we’re bored, or we’re in meetings that don’t apply to us, so we revert to our phones, our computers or even a blank piece of paper. We are communicating in that moment that we don’t care about what’s going on. We may not want to communicate that, but we are by our actions. I challenge you to go back to your purpose. If you’re just putting in time, fulfilling someone else’s expectations, then get out of it. If your purpose is really to help, to coach, to engage, than BE ALL THERE.
Here’s my last word, and I apologize in advance for this truth:
When we don’t engage with the people who are right in front of us, we undermine everything we are trying to do. I would say to you, if you have a hard time disconnecting from technology to engage with people, maybe you’re in the wrong line of work. Do something else! We have to fight the trend that is devaluing relationships and that is creating a shallow society where people don’t go very deep with people because they can only communicate things in 140 characters or less.
Engage with people. Give them your attention. Turn off technology for a while. Invest into others lives with all that you have. Make this a HABIT.
*By the way, I’m a huge technology fan, but I am really working on letting people know that they are much more important to me. Join me!
To track the 10 Habits, CLICK HERE