Multitasking—for example, pausing while you read this blog to toggle to a new email and back—has been shown in many recent studies to lead to errors and distraction. Nevertheless, our gadgets enable multitasking to the point where monotasking (a.k.a. “single-tasking” or, simply, doing one thing at a time) has become a skill that needs to be practiced.
Any experience can be improved by paying full attention to it, says Kelly McGonigal, a psychologist, Stanford lecturer, and author of The Willpower Instinct. Listening is among the most important of these experiences.
“Practice how you listen to people,” McGonigal urges. “Put down anything that’s in your hands and turn all of your attentional channels to the person who is talking. You should be looking at them, listening to them, and your body should be turned to them. If you want to see a benefit from monotasking, if you want to have any kind of social rapport or influence on someone, that’s the place to start. That’s where you’ll see the biggest payoff.”
We want to hear: In what circumstances do you feel you give your full attention when someone else is speaking? Would you like to improve the frequency with which you do this, and what strategies can you share? To join the conversation, click "comments" below.
If you would like to read more about creating a habit around masterful communication, check out our book: Be Quiet, Be Heard: The Paradox of Persuasion