When all of my family gets together, it gets a little loud. Some might suggest that Tylenol prior to the visit doesn’t hurt. It’s not because it’s not enjoyable. When we get together, we have a great time. Everyone’s so excited to see each other and catch up, so there are lots of conversations happening simultaneously. It can be a bit much for outsiders.
On top of all of that, my family has some pretty high expectations for everyone keeping up on all the conversations. It’s not uncommon for someone to be mid-sentence in one chat and be asked a question in another. What can I say? We’re a family of multi-taskers. After a while though, even the most devoted family member can grow weary in the effort of keeping up.
Whether in life or business, we all have ‘noise’ coming at us, and usually at a pretty rapid pace. Being able to silence our thoughts, filter the conversations, determine what’s important or just filler and react appropriately when needed, is a true skill. Here are some tips acquired through many family holidays/outings and thousands of business meetings:
1. Listen conceptually. If you try to pay attention to every word, you will burn out. Work on understanding the concepts, rather than being able to recall the sentences word-for-word.
2. Check-in periodically. There’s a science explanation to this: Contributing to the conversation from time to time has been found to reinforce learning and aid in understanding. It also allows people to know you’re paying attention. They usually appreciate that.
3. Sleep and eat. Hunger and sleep deprivation destroy your ability to concentrate under any conditions, especially noisy ones. Thousands of studies have been completed on kids and their ability to concentrate / learn in school. It worked for you as a child; it will work for you as an adult.
4. Breathe. Sounds trite, but breathing truly will calm and center you. It will allow you to combat the distractions that are assaulting your senses.
5. Set a goal and speak it out loud. The moment you verbalized a goal and there is public accountability, your probability of completing it increases significantly. Don’t keep it to yourself. Give it a voice.
What other tips do you have to offer? I look forward to hearing them.
Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons Kevin Lawver