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Jan 16
2018

Multitasking During Meetings

Posted by: Steve Marr

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I was in a meeting with a colleague who was reviewing “Tom’s” work as a website development person. Just as the meeting started Tom turned his attention to his smart phone, and then looked up. I was hoping he turned off the device. Instead twice more Tom took his attention from our meeting and shifted it to his electronic device. I was already a little irritated going into the meeting because we were behind schedule, and I was concerned about how we were going to get everything done in a timely manner.

 

After the third distraction I asked Tom if this meeting was important to him. He said it was. I asked him if the client, meaning me, was important to him.  He said I was and looked a little surprised.

I explained my philosophy on meetings. We’re either engaged or we are not engaged. If we’re not engaged and focused, why have the meeting? We should postpone it and focus on whatever else is worthy of our efforts at that moment. I told Tom I believed that when a person tries to do two things at the same time, neither was important. He wouldn’t be able to give his full attention to his electronic device while fully engaged in the meeting, just as he couldn’t fully participate in the meeting if he was responding to an electronic device.

I told Tom if he wanted to continue the meeting and our business relationship, he needed to turn the phone off and focus on the task at hand. My phone had been turned off earlier to avoid interruptions.

I doubt that Tom had ever been confronted directly about this issue, and I perceived he was put off. While I value his relationship, I didn’t really care if he was put off. My priority was to get the job done. If Tom was unwilling to focus during a direct face-to-face meeting, my concern was that he would be just as unfocused in completing the work. 

Paul wrote, “Have I now become your enemy by telling you the truth?” (Galatians 4:16, NIV) In situations like this I believe being direct is better than ignoring the issue. While I don’t like conflict, I would rather have some conflict during the meeting than face a much larger conflict later if the work was not completed. I could tell Tom felt I was being unreasonable, but he also got the point. Focus was necessary to get the job done.  

When meeting with your customers, focus on their needs and what they want.  Listen carefully and take good notes. Then, you’ll be in a position to act effectively resulting in stronger relationships and more business.

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