Join Brenda Bailey-Hughes for an in-depth discussion in this video Multitasking, part of Effective Listening.
- [Tatiana] Hey, have you talked to Ron lately? - [Brenda] No, I haven't seen him what's going on? - [Tatiana] Okay, the job front situation is blowing up, so the old place now has a new job description for him, so they're trying to keep him from leaving. And the new place just offered him more money, so -- - [Brenda] Oh, that's a good problem to have, right? - [Tatiana] Well, a good problem to have, but now what is he gonna do? He could say, and have a more exciting job, or he could leave and make more money. - [Brenda] What is he going to do? - [Tatiana] Probably ask to have lunch with us so he can decide, I don't know -- - [Brenda] He should, he should call us.
- [Tatiana] I know, but I don't know, that would be, actually, a good problem to have, so... - [Brenda] Exactly. - [Tatiana] I know, he's good at what -- - [Brenda] How did he get the other place to bump up -- - [Tatiana] I think he told them that he had another offer. Isn't that how you make more money? - [Brenda] He just used the offer for the -- - [Tatiana] Yeah, he's smart, he's a smart guy. Sure, I know, isn't that cool? - As you can see from this scenario, multitasking a huge barrier to good listening. In this day and age, when we are constantly connected to everyone at once, it's so tempting to allow ourselves to be distracted.
Author Marshall Goldsmith defines great listening as the ability to make another person feel as though he or she is the only other person in the room. I certainly didn't make Tatiana feel like that during our conversation just now. Later, we'll share some tips on how to project your attentiveness to the other person, but I can tell you, it is not going to happen if you are trying to do anything else but listen. Now, you may argue that you are an excellent multitasker that you can really pay attention to someone while you are doing something else.
I'm going to challenge you a little bit on that assumption. More and more research indicates that multitasking is actually harming, not helping, our efficiency and productivity. One such study proved that people actually end up making more errors, and slowing down overall work time when they are trying to switch back and forth between tasks. If I'm toggling back and forth between listening to one person and reading text from another, I stand to make mistakes in understanding them both.
Nor do I stand to really save any time in my day. After I misunderstand Tatiana, she's going to have to repeat what she was saying to begin with, and I've gained nothing. I've lost her confidence and trust because I've not been a good listener. Let's consider two alternatives to my first conversation with Tatiana. I could have really given her my attention, stopped typing immediately, ignored my phone and the papers on my desk.
I could have focused on her and made her feel as though she were the only person in the room. Or, if that's impossible right at the moment, I could have said, "I am swamped right now. "Can I come find you at lunch when I can "be a better listener?" Remember, multitasking, as tempting as it is is not your friend if you want to be a good listener.
- Recalling details
- Avoiding distractions and the feeling of being overwhelmed
- Clarifying your role
- Using attentive nonverbal cues
- Paraphrasing what was said
- Matching emotions and mirroring