One way to personal effectiveness is being able to focus on the proper task or person at the proper time. This often boils down to “wherever you are, be there”. Especially with people, “being with” that person without being distracted is a key element in interpersonal and business success. It is also a fundamental part of being a good listener.
Of course, the difficulty is we are multi-tasking and going miles per minute doing what we’re already doing. There are things to be done, orders to fill, and projects to expedite. Taking time out for undistracted time with people can seem so … inefficient. But let’s all remember what Stephen Covey taught us: with people, fast is slow and slow is fast.
As much as I wish we could schedule this slow time with our most important people, my experience tells me they often happen spontaneously and unplanned. Our ability to seize the moment with them seems to get the best result. Sometimes, weeks of problems can disappear with just a time of patient and thoughtful attention. Be industrious but be adaptive.
The best CEOs, teachers, counselors, and parents are great listeners. They know about the power of being with people without internal or external distractions. Let’s all plan our lives in such a way that we can be highly productive and still leave open opportunities to be interrupted for important listening sessions when they occur.