Sunday, April 28, 2013

Multi-tasking, brain chemicals or rudeness?

I was watching Janet Napolitano,Secretary of Department of Homeland Security, on CSPAN testify on immigration reform and could not miss all the people on the senate panel and in the audience that were viewing their smart phones as she spoke. Many will tell you this is the great efficiency of multi-tasking.

The same day a Steve emailed me his thoughts on the new book by Nicholas Carr titled “The Shallows: What the Internet is doing toour Brains.  Nicholas presents a hypothesis that “our brains have chemically changed over time to adapt to an age of instant information in short snippets which allow us to gain large amounts of information in a short period of time, without delving too far into the topic.” So maybe there is something to the “crackberry” theory!

But then again, perhaps many of us and our leaders have simply lost the basic skill of being polite and listening.

Which side of this argument do you reside? Do you understand the generational differences of this debate and how you bridge them?


Anonymous said...

It seems more of a lack of respect by not giving someone your full attention. If the roles were reversed how many would be complaining that they are not being heard.

Anonymous said...

It was a congressional hearing. It was all for show and no one was listening. That's been true for at least a century. The cell phones simply give the inquisitors something to do while they're not really listening.

JBKB said...

Science shows us that the brain can not actually focus on more than one thing at a time. We think we are achieving more by multitasking but there are risks that we do none of those things as well as we could have if we focused.
This applies to listening as well. I agree that this is a sign of disrepect when someone is speaking. Give them your attention.
My only caveat is that today many people do take notes on electronic devices instead of a note book. So, we just need to be aware of that.

joeinca said...

I believe this is rude. It sends a message of lack of respect for the presenter and/or the subject.

On a relate note, in yesterday's USA Today, April 30, 2013, was an article titled, "Wanted: Millennials who know how to Interview". In the past three years, quirks such as texting or taking calls during interviews, inappropriate dress, behavior or language is exhibited by about 20% of interviewees.

It seems as though this behavior is becoming more commonplace.

John Bishop said...

Thank you for the comments and insights. It is interesting how this topic is starting to bother people.


stuartb67 said...

A phenomenon that is unlikely to improve much - so the ancillary message for presenters, lecturers, anyone wanting to present in a meeting etc, is that most of your carefully crafted half-hour of material will go unheard. So you'd better make sure, more than ever before, that your concept is simplicity itself and able to have a huge impact in the first sentence or two, because that may be all you've got to get through to most of your audience. No point saving a killer reveal for 20 minutes in, because by that time they're all doing email, texting the kids or playing Candy Crush...

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