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  • Nick

A view from the other side

This might be an uncomfortable read

Here is a scenario for you… Tuesday night and you are both watching TV and an email comes in from a client; you are talking with your partner about something or other and you actually stop talking mid-sentence and look at your email; your attention is only focused on the email as it might be good news. There isn’t an argument from your partner, in fact they don’t say a word. They know exactly what is going on.

This is a rather benign and typically low-key example of what I presume happens throughout the world with business owners or leaders and their partners. I can also remember many times seeing people while talking to their children answering emails or looking at the phone. Again, there is no response, no tantrum from the child, just a confirmation in their head of what life is like.

I am not trying to shame anyone here and running a business or team is tough and after 20 years of doing it myself, it doesn’t get any easier. I just want to talk about what is going on with you when you get an email or a call or any other distractions. What is the impulse that makes you drop whatever you doing and be so focused elsewhere?

I bet if we ask about what is the most important part of your life - your family/partner is going to at the top (if not them then maybe we need to talk ). So, if it is at the top then why is your focus so easily moved and more importantly do you want to do anything about it?

If you don’t then that is fine (well not really, but I get the pressures and the adrenalin rush) but if it is, then maybe we should introduce some lovely things called boundaries; excuse my sarcasm as I am not trying to teach Granny to suck eggs, but boundaries are a great way to have control, they are a great way of making sure that one aspect of your life isn’t consuming the other.

Now, before I get the ‘yeah, but…’ argument about emergencies and it couldn’t wait and I am under a lot of pressure, let’s not kid ourselves, mostly, you are not that important, mostly, emails and calls can be left and dealt with later. But, picking an email over a person just leads to a very negative experience. The other person just sits there with their own sense of importance put firmly in its place.

They try and understand, your family know you are busy, that you have an important job, but every time it happens. and I mean every time there is an affect and they start to accumulate and soon it becomes expected that what they are saying to you doesn’t matter as much as that email.

Let’s imagine that you are in the middle of a meeting with an important client, and you think it is going well, you are waxing lyrical and then without warning, they turn their backs, pick up a phone and text someone else; in that split second how would you feel? About the client and how it makes you feel about yourself?

Of course, you are going to make excuses and keep going and you may even accept their apology for texting, but there is a hit to your sense of self-worth and it is going to a little while to shake it off. Now imagine having that experience every day, or twice a day or at breakfast and dinner and during family time; then when you are sitting on the sofa watching TV; how long would it take you to get the idea that other things are more important than you.

Boundaries are a wonderful thing because they actually make you better at your job, it makes you less antagonistic towards your work as you aren’t interrupted at home, and they give you control back. I bet that not once has anybody reasonable expected or wanted an answer to an email at 8.50pm, but you feel like you have to at least read it so that you can be prepared for the next day; it then sits in your head and uses up valuable energy and concentration when you are the least equipped to handle it.

I am pretty sure that you don’t want to hurt the people closest to you and even though you think you are in control the psychology of why you check emails and answer calls when you don’t need to, mean you don’t really stand a chance of combatting it without awareness and intervention – don’t believe me then ask yourself why Meta is currently worth $747billion.

Understanding how to deal with this is probably a really quick fix, try it, put some rules in place, think about turning off items and notifications and when you are with your family/partner then be with them, fully and without interruption. It will probably feel uncomfortable at first and make you uneasy about your job but stick with it.

Try it and let me know how it goes, however, sometimes the reasons why boundaries are difficult to implement are much more complex and in depth and you might need some time to explore and work on these. This is the time when speaking with us at The Mind Mechanics and getting to the core of what is going on is important for you to gain control of your life and finally make your number one priority stick.

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