Do people know they matter?
We have all had meetings or conversations with people where we can just tell they are half-heartedly listening or completely tuned out to what we are saying. Maybe the distraction is warranted and the individual to whom you are speaking has a reason for not paying attention.
However, my guess is that the person is distracted for reasons that have nothing to do with some immediate, pressing issue. Over the past couple of years I have noticed the trend for people, me included, to not be fully present during conversations, or when I am with other people. This lack of presence got me thinking if I had allowed electronic devices and my penchant to “want to fix things” to creep into the way in which I interact with others. There are a few things that I am trying to reconnect with coworkers, team members, family and friends.
- Remove the Distractions. If you are meeting with someone leave your cell phone, ipad, computer or other electronic device out of the conversation. It is rude to click, click away on your keyboard while someone is trying to talk to you. The fact of the matter is no one is good at multitasking, especially during a conversation. If you care enough to meet with someone, care enough to leave your electronic device out of the conversation.
- Responding to Emails and Phone Calls. I know I have been guilty of responding to emails and phone calls when someone is meeting with me. Again, this is another example of rude behavior. Common courtesy dictates that if you have invited someone into your office that you treat them like a guest in your home. Most people would not turn the television on or talk on the phone if they had a guest in their home. Most people would want to talk to the person, find out how they were doing, and make an effort to connect. If you are meeting with someone in your office, put your phone on forward and turn your computer off, or at least turn your monitor off so that you will not be distracted by emails.
- Say Thank You. I have noticed a trend in business that people seem to only say thank you on rare occasions or the say thank you in a perfunctory manner. If someone does something nice for your or goes out of their way, take two seconds to say thank you. A thank you is best delivered in face-to-face conversation. Emails, text messages and voice mails are impersonal ways of delivering a very personal message.
- Stop Using Email to Convey Messages. I love getting thank you notes. I also love to send thank you notes. What I have found is that people love getting personal messages. Sending thank you notes is a very intimate exercise. Providing a personal note requires the sender to purchase a card, formulate their thoughts, and craft a message. There is no better way to express to someone that you were thinking of them in a personal and meaningful way then with a thank you note.
- Make an Effort To Connect. Nothing is as strong as the relationship it is built upon. If you are looking for meaningful connections, take the time to cultivate relationships. Remember one or two important facts about the people you work with, call a friend for no reason because something during your day reminded you of them, and make an effort to have a conversation with your significant other absent of the television or electronic device. Showing people that you are fully present is a powerful message about the value placed on the relationship.
I realize none of these suggestions is revolutionary, but at the end of the day relationships are built on the premise of connection. The only way to establish connection is to be present during your interactions with others. This practice of connection takes work and intention, but powerful results can be realized when one gives a 100% attention to people that matter.