Lay Down Thy Devices And Communicate Better

I’ve been thinking a lot about multitasking since reading a blog post by Jeff Toister entitled “Why Multitasking Hurts Customer Service.”  For the longest time, I have hired customer service innovativelyorganizedrepresentatives based partially on how well they say they can multitask.  Listen closely for the sound of glass shattering and I come to this realization that perhaps focus is the skill we should actually be hiring for and multitasking is a complete farce.

For typical meetings around our office, I often show up with my computer and my phone.  What’s better than looking busy (and important) in front of my coworkers and boss right?  If some of the discussion or subject matter in the meeting doesn’t involve me, perhaps I can get a little bit of work done.  Here’s the problem with that.  Inevitably I get sucked into some long email conversation when someone turns to me and asks “Jeremy, what do you think.”  To which I respond “Duh…..can you repeat the question?”  Way to look good in front of your coworkers right?

Active listening is such a critical ingredient in awesome customer service both internally and externally and meetings are no exception.  By asking people to repeat themselves or simply failing to effectively engage in discussion because I chose to direct my attention elsewhere, I am wasting everyone’s time.  This is disrespectful and communicates to a person that they are unimportant and have no value.

That’s why I have chosen to leave my laptop on my desk and disable the internet on my phone during meetings.  My arsenal now includes a pen, a notepad, my ears, mouth and eyes and a laptop only if it’s absolutely critical to the meeting.  I encourage you to do the same.

If you’re like me and don’t particularly enjoy meetings, this is one way to make them more efficient and effective, leaving you with more time for your other work.  If we ever have the pleasure of meeting together, you now have my permission to confiscate my devices if I don’t give you my complete and undivided attention.


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  • Hi, I’m Jenny and I’m a multitasker.

    You bring up a great discussion here, Jeremy. I’ve been in meetings with you and can say that this has definitely happened haha in fact, I’m guilty of it myself! I used to pride myself on my multitasking skills…until we really jumped into the blog and started reading books about how multitasking isn’t so effective. I however do it without even thinking–it’s an engrained process. Starting with putting focus in meetings with no extraneous disturbances is a really great way to work on changing this “multitasking habit”! Thanks for this post today, Watkin!

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