We’ve all done it, and most of the time we’re really good at hiding it.
You’re in a meeting and then it happens—you get distracted or bored. Suddenly, your email or news outlet calls your name and then you’re off to another mental planet. It’s OK to admit it. The virtual world is a distracting place; our listening skills suffer for it.
And if we’re on the receiving end of someone else’s poor listening, we can suffer for it, too—in painfully funny ways.
When Distraction Turns Strange
Take for example what happened to my friend José. He was in a critical client meeting, delivering a final presentation after having gathered business requirements and collaborating with his team for months. This was the moment of truth: when the client would see the custom-built deliverables and how hard he and his team had…
“Wait, what’s that noise?”
José’s internal and external dialogue was interrupted by a familiar sound. “Is that the theme song for Stranger Things?” Yep—one of the attendees was streaming the Netflix series during José’s presentation, and wouldn’t you know it, they forgot to press “mute.”
Like I said, most of the time we’re good at hiding our virtual distractedness.
None of us working in a virtual environment since March of 2020 are immune to the challenge of being fully present. And while a global pandemic forced us to shelter in place and work from home, another ailment has been burgeoning in virtual offices everywhere: distracted listening.
Multitasking leads to distraction, encourages poor listening, and can lead to unwise—albeit funny—professional decisions. For those of us in the client services industry, however, truly listening and understanding our clients’ needs is paramount to premium delivery.