After checking in, the couple decided to head to the hotel bar for a nightcap. Luckily two seats opened up just as they walked in. They sat down and the bartender stood with his back turned watching the television as a Thursday Night Football game was being televised. The couple waited and when they saw a second bartender come in their direction, they thought they might finally be able to order a drink. They were disappointed as the second bartender also turned their back to watch the game.
Finally getting their attention, they received their drinks. No engagement with the patrons, just back to watching the game. Having visited more than a bar or two in my day, and having been a bartender earlier in my life, I have a great appreciation for those great bartenders who know that sometimes people come looking for an ear that will listen, a friend to talk to, a therapist to hear their problems, or someone to celebrate with. The couple finished their drinks and left.
Here’s another story that was shared with me by a sales leader. She was on a virtual sales call with one of her salespeople. They were using Zoom so they could all turn on their webcam and see each other, almost as if they were face-to-face and in person. The sales leader was invited to the meeting to share specific and new information with the prospect. The salesperson thought it would be better received coming from a senior leader.
As the meeting went on and the sales leader started discussing important data while also gathering great information through relevant questioning, she noticed that her salesperson wasn’t really paying attention. They looked distracted and were probably multi-tasking. Although she noticed it, her hopes were that the prospect wouldn’t really notice. Well into the discussion the salesperson finally started paying attention, but as it turned out, it was a little too little and a little too late. The final straw was when the salesperson brought up an irrelevant topic and asked an unrelated question. Unfortunately, they did not win the business.
How many times have we tuned out those around us only to tune into a game, an app, or something else? If we are being honest, it’s probably happening more often than we care to admit.
Imagine the teacher not being truly engaged with their student, the spouse not tuned in to their better half, the parent not engaging with their child, or a best friend losing interest in something that is important to their friend in that moment. In any one of those situations, I believe the relationship will suffer when we fail to truly engage.
Engagement is so vitally important in any relationship. Combine engagement with intentionality and we have a true winning recipe for a winning relationship to thrive. An example of intentional engagement is when we are watching television and our spouse or child asks us a question or wants to talk and we simply turn off the TV and intentionally engage. A common mistake that sends the wrong message is when we say, “OK, how about at the next commercial or at halftime, or when the show is over?” When we do that, we are saying that the game or show is more important than our child or spouse.
And if it’s not TV, can we close our computer, put down our phone, or stop what we are doing to actively listen and engage with those around us? Engagement, intentional engagement, really does make all the difference.
How about you? Are you finding yourself distracted and multi-tasking and maybe even disengaged? Have you ever noticed when someone else doesn’t appear to be actively or intentionally engaged with you? How did that feel? And have you ever responded to someone looking for your undivided attention by saying, “After the next commercial or at halftime?” I would love to hear your story at email@example.com, and when we can engage with intentionality, it really will be a better than good life?
Michael Norton is an author, a personal and professional coach, consultant, trainer, encourager and motivator of individuals and businesses, working with organizations and associations across multiple industries.