Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
CEO Minute: “How many of you are present today?”

CEO Minute: “How many of you are present today?”

CEO Minute: “How many of you are present today?”  - image0“How many of you are present today?”

That odd question is how a high school football coach I know starts each of his speeches. If you were in the audience, it seemed odd — but, in another way, it was a brilliant question. Perhaps now more than ever, in the age of texting and constant electronic communication, it is the question of the hour.

When we are present and engaged in meetings and conversations with others, it means being respectful of the other person's presence, their ideas and their voice. It entails seeking to understand the thoughts and ideas of others, instead of pretending to listen when it is clear we are not.

Confession time: my record on this is not entirely clean. I am trying to do better.  It is tempting to check emails from a device that is buzzing and vibrating and basically saying, “Hey, look at me!”

We hear a lot about not texting and driving and how that can result in terrible things happening, but maybe we should also be concerned about texting and striving. The striving part being when someone is trying to get our attention.

Let’s face it. It really is a bit rude to fool around and tap on keyboards and smartphone screens when someone is talking to us or we are in a meeting. We may call it multitasking, but put away the electronic device next time you need to be listening to another human being. Be present when you need to be present.

My idea for a new public service campaign — no texting and striving (when people are striving to get our attention).