Distractedness - Is it robbing you of your credibility?
Meet our credibility thief. He shows up in many different guises within all of us. He thrives on damaging your reputation, sabotaging your relationships and devouring your profits.
Unless you are very self-aware you may struggle to see him yourself, but your prospects, clients and colleagues can.
He often shows up in the form of 'distractedness' - preventing you from being focused and engaged in your interactions. He can interrupt and agitate your mind, creating barriers to strengthening your personal and professional relationships.
What does it feel like being on the receiving end of distractedness? It doesn't feel good. You feel devalued, unimportant, insignificant. Distractedness disrupts engagement.
You are constantly bombarded with distractions during your working day and many of these cannot be avoided and impact on your productivity. No-one can be focused and present all of the time but being distracted when you are interacting with others signals to them 'You are unimportant to me right now'.
In a world of increasingly digitised interactions, connecting on a human level is more valuable than ever. When you have a conversation with a prospect, client or colleague, be in the conversation. Look like you want to be there and sound like you want to be there.
How can you ensure that the credibility thief doesn't show up in the form of 'distractedness' and that you remain focused during your interactions?
Here are our tips to help you stay in the conversation:
#1 Prime your mind for the interaction you are about to have
Prepare your mind to be attentive with the client you are about to meet and not just think about your desired outcome. Prepare to listen and to take note of any non-verbal cues including breathing patterns. Spend time thinking about the characteristics you want to demonstrate in that moment. For example, if you wish to show warmth and empathy, you'll want to consider using a softer tone, a lower volume and a lower pitch. You'll also want to slow down your speaking speed, and choose words that convey warmth; ie., phrases such as 'I understand' or 'How can I support you?'
#2 Consider the environment
The environment can influence the strength of your interactions. If you are not comfortable in your surroundings, this can negatively affect your behaviour and the other person's. Is the environment suitable for the intended discussion? How formal/informal does your meeting place need to be? Are there any known external distractions?
#3 Noise levels
This plays a significant role in your ability to remain present during an interaction. You need to be able to hear your client and to be able to hear yourself think!
#4 Start things on a positive note
Get yourself together before the interaction. If you've had a difficult journey to work, have a heavy workload or you've had things go wrong that day, clear these thoughts from your head. Make the time count by bringing the correct energy and attitude to the conversation.
#5 Maintain good eye contact
Aim to hold eye contact around 70% of the time during a business interaction. Any more than this could make the recipient feel uncomfortable. Too little eye contact could signal a lack of confidence or interest.
#6 Put your phone away and on silent mode
This may seem obvious. If your telephone or any other gadget is on the table or in your hand then your client clearly isn't your focus!
#7 Consider your schedule
Plan your time to allow for a reasonable break between meetings. Give yourself time to gather your thoughts, prepare for the next interaction and to eat if necessary. This will help your mind to recharge and refocus.
#8 Say no to thoughts that have nothing to do with the conversation
Learn how to control you wandering mind. Being mindful will involve practice. Each time you find your mind wandering, just say 'no' to bring yourself back to the present moment. Immerse yourself into the words that the other person is saying. Listen with the intent to understand and not just to reply.
#9 Take a planned approach to what you're wearing
Just as you would prepare for a meeting in terms of notes, mindset and desired outcomes, it's equally important to be comfortable in what you're wearing. Have you ever noticed someone being interviewed on TV constantly pulling at their clothes as they are clearly not comfortable in what they've selected to wear that day: it's distracting!