The Casualty of Multitasking

In Aikido, there is an exercise called Happo Waza.  The meaning of this is “eight ways”.  We move our attention in one direction and move our body in the same direction.  Then we move in another direction… and another… and another.  We do this in 8 different directions.  One of the teachings that I take from this exercise is that we cannot move in multiple directions at once.  We cannot focus our attention in multiple directions at once.

Wikipedia defines multitasking as:

the performance by an individual of appearing to handle more than one task at the same time. The term is derived from computer multitasking. An example of multitasking is listening to a radio interview while typing an email. Multitasking can result in time wasted due to human context switching and apparently causing more errors due to insufficient attention.

Notice the phrase “appearing to handle more than one task”.  The definition also includes the idea that multitasking results in “time wasted”  because it causes “more errors due to insufficient attention”.

In Sales, there is another casualty of the multitasking culture.  It is relationship.

Do you know salespeople that cannot sit down and have a conversation with you without checking their email, phone or voicemail?  I’ve seen salespeople behave like this in front of customers.  What message does this behavior convey?  It is simple.  “I’m so important that what is happening on my Blackberry is far more important than you.”

That’s sick.  Get over yourself.

Your ability to focus fully on the customer or colleague who is immediately in front of you is directly proportional to the quality of relationship that you will have.