Just think about it…
Not such an easy task any more, is it?
Today, we’re pushed to act fast, faster, fastest. We generally have too many things to do and too little time to do them. And technology is pushing the hurried exchange of information: condensed texting, terse Tweets, curt voice messages.
We often react to information before we’ve even had a chance to take it all in. The downside is that misunderstandings and mistakes arise when people react to communications before thinking clearly. Consider the embarrassing Twitter incident earlier this year by a communications professional who had traveled to a U.S. city to meet with one of his agency’s clients. He posted a Tweet that referred to being in “one of those towns where I scratch my head and say ‘I would die if I had to live here!‘” That Tweet was eventually communicated to his employer and the client and caused embarrassment all around before apologies were extended and accepted.
As more and more of us react first and think later, these kinds of incidents are becoming more common – and leading to more misinterpretations and mix-ups. We may even be losing the ability to think deeply. According to neuroscientist Susan Greenwood, online social networking may be rewiring our brains and leading to shorter attention spans.
If we don’t want to “lose it” then we need to “use it.” If we want to communicate effectively with one another, we need to make a conscious effort to exercise our ability to think. We have to give ourselves time to think before making decisions, for example. Encourage employees to use thinking time to generate creative ideas and to solve problems. Hire people who demonstrate the ability to consider the who, what, where, when, why and how, before they act. Reward people, not for the speed with which they complete tasks, but for their well thought out approaches to doing them.
As information and technology proliferate, it will become increasingly important for organizational leaders to demonstrate, and to encourage others, to think about information, to understand it, to process it, and only then to act on it.
Food for thought….