Next Tuesday, April 9th I’ll hold a free teleseminar “Everyday Spirituality: Creating Simple Habits and Rituals to Support Yourself” at 6 pm CST/7 pm EST/4 pm PST.  Email for call-in #.  I’ll set aside time to coach during the call, so let me know if you’d like to be coached!

Last week I presented “Leadership Using Active Listening Skills” to the Central Minnesota Manufacturers Association.  Participants gave me their business cards with their goals. One man’s goal was to be “a more effective listener while multitasking on the phone”.

Research suggests effective multitasking is a myth (sorry, you proud multitaskers!)

You can only effectively multitask if one of the tasks is so automatic/rote (like walking or eating) that it takes no focus to do it and if the other task engages a different part of the brain.

For instance, you can read or write while listening to instrumental classical music (particularly Baroque music like Bach) because reading comprehension/processing engages a different part of the brain than does listening to music.  But if you listen to music with lyrics, your ability to retain information will decline because you’re using the language center of the brain for two tasks.

So are you able to listen on the phone and answer email at the same time?  Sure, but it just means both activities could suffer.

According to the American Psychological Association, it’s impossible to do two things at the same time.  Instead, you are “serial tasking” or shifting from one task to the other in rapid succession.  Although it feels efficient, it’s not.  It takes up to 40% more time than doing one thing at a time, especially if complexity is involved.

At my last job, I received phone supervision.  My supervisor would ask a question.  I’d answer and could hear the constant key clicks while I spoke (and he wasn’t taking notes on what I said…) Adding insult to injury, when I’d finished, he’d say “But what I don’t understand is…” and repeat his first question.

I doubted he WAS listening (and if he was, he wasn’t hearing me).  It was so rude.  I called him on it, but it never changed.  It was one reason to leave that job!

When I coach in person or by phone, I always ask my clients to eliminate distractions so we can fully concentrate on the coaching conversation.  That’s both of our jobs—to bring our entire selves to the conversation so we can create a meaningful session and a meaningful relationship.

I challenge you in the next week when you’re dealing with anyone or anything important in your life (and beware of what you label unimportant!) to really focus on the person or the task.  See if anything changes in your focus or in the conversation when you care enough to make another person your priority.

And may your pursue your relationships with passion, purpose and peace!

Best wishes,