Alexander Charles
Xerox public relations coordinator, Global Public Relations

How do you avoid conversation overload?” The question has recently gained traction with the introduction of a new social network, Google+. 

On the surface, a new communications tool seems like a great idea. But I have lots of ways to engage in a conversation.  There’s email, mobile phone, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instant Messenger and a landline (yes, it still counts). With so many tools at your disposal, do you need one more? Do you ever feel a bit overwhelmed?

These questions remind me of one of my favorite commercials. It depicts a woman and her boyfriend sitting across from each other.  The woman proceeds to send a text.  The man responds and says, “You just sent me a text we’re breaking up?”  The woman goes on to say not to worry she’s switched data plans.  She proceeds to send an email, change Facebook status and then makes  a call.   The commercial shows the variety of ways we have to communicate, and illustrates how hard it is to remain in the present moment.

When I’m on a conference call, I follow the agenda on my computer.  But I’m tempted when an email notification pops up and tells me someone either needs something or is sharing pertinent information I need.  Taught to multitask, I’ll peek at the email to see what it’s about but then my attention is divided and it’s hard to fully engage in the call.

Diluting your attention with the plethora of communication vehicles could dilute the quality of your work or ability to retain ideas. To fix this, try eliminating distractions. In the case of email; disable the pop-up message notifications and block out time to ignore your inbox.  Then focus on the task at hand.  

Before diving into a new communications tool, stop and take a breath and ask yourself- “Does this add value?” Remember, it’s still the message that’s important not the medium.