In this era of digital dependence and communication bombardment, it is tempting to check your phone or computer every time a message appears in your inbox. But during meetings with others, squash this desire and focus on the people in the room! Block out all distractions and really listen to your colleagues and clients, even if you have other important items to do.
Most successful people — especially those that leave lasting impressions — have a reputation of making you feel like you are the only one who matters. Former President Bill Clinton has such a reputation. From the other end of the spectrum, so does the Dalai Lama. Yet both have many responsibilities, interpersonal relationships, and requests competing for their attention. How do they do it? By mastering the art of focus and listening.
Whenever you feel the desire to check your gadgets or your mind wanders, remember that the most important person is the person standing in front of you. At that single moment in time, the living, breathing human being in front of you should command your complete attention.
People’s time, including yours, is valuable. We can’t recover lost time. So if someone is giving up their time to interact or speak with you, it is not only respectful but also increases your effectiveness to give them your full focus. If you no longer wish to stay in the conversation, politely excuse yourself. Also, don’t put yourself in situations where you do not plan to focus on the person standing right in front of you. If your smartphone is too tempting, turn it off!