How Not to Get Caught Up In the Chatter

Written by Scott May 19, 2010

Avoid the Chatter!

Written by: Scott Dinsmore

Average Reading Time: 4.7 minutes

I propose an idea. A call to action to fight the chatter and enjoy what’s presently in front of us. Let me explain.

Last week I found myself at a social media marketing event in San Francisco called SMASH. Fascinating and inspiring to say that least. Of all I learned, there was one word that stood out more than most: Chatter. Talk about a buzz word! In fact that one word summed up the whole event. For those of you not aware, chatter is the noise all the social networks in the world make when they have something to say…which is at least every second. It can be heard through your iPhone, your computer, your RSS and your iPad-and just about anything else you carry around that needs electricity.

At some point it became our job to listen to and follow it. Anyone with a blog or interest online feels the interest and likely the obligation to keep up with this chatter. But how much better off does it leave us? The amazing thing was that I don’t think one person out of the 300 in the audience caught one complete idea from the speakers throughout the 8 hours. Why? All that chatter. They were so busy keeping up with the chatter at their chatter conference that they likely did not learn a thing about how to manage and leverage the chatter, which is why they came in the first place.

So here’s what comes to mind.

Top Tips for Chatter Defense:

1. Use Airplane Mode. Just because it’s called “airplane mode” does not mean you have to be flying to use it. This feature should be called “stop being distracted and pay attention to what matters, mode.” We all have the option on our phones, iPad’s and computers (just switch off your wifi). Use it liberally to keep connection temptation at bay. The time to be connected is not when someone is speaking to you. Rarely will I even start reading a book without switching to airplane mode.

2. Do you really care? Decide up front if you really care about what you’re doing. If not, don’t go. Save some time and a little money. The only message communicated by a bunch of electronic distractions during a talk or meeting is that you don’t want to be there. Then don’t be.

3. Leave your computer at home. Sounds crazy I know. I have been doing this more and more (but I still have a ways to go). First it felt like I was leaving a part of me behind, but before long it’s liberating. Heaven forbid you get caught at an airport or event with some down time and you actually have to interact with some humans to fill the void.

4. Take notes. Most people think they can listen and do other things at the same time. Not the case. Take notes. Even if you don’t think the stuff is crucial to remember, writing the stuff down will force you to pay attention and be present. The better you understand which experiences you value most, the less you will find yourself in a situation you don’t feel requires notes. Plus the repetition ingrains it into your brain.

5. Use a real notebook (the paper kind). As useful as computers and other devices may be for taking notes, most of us can not handle the distraction. Get back to basics. Remember what it feels like to roll a ballpoint across some crisp paper. Keep it simple. Molskine is my go to brand. I don’t go anywhere without it.

6. Make a list. We tend to want to do things as soon as they come to mind. The only problem is this kills our productivity, focus and attention. As soon as a todo comes to mind, write it down in your notebook, which should already be out. Don’t jump to send an email, a text, a tweet or make a call. Eject the thought from your head to the page and go back to being present. Reserve a spot in your notebook (I use the bottom 10th of each page) and come back at the end of the day to collect the todo’s.

More presence, less chatter

7. Value your time above all else. Your time is yours and there’s nothing more precious. If you decide to attend an event, then it better be because you see enormous value in it. If not then you will waste your time and that of those around you by chattering away.

8. Be interested. If you are busy multitasking, texting, emailing or tweeting while you are in the physical presence of someone else, you’re telling them their time and attention is of not value to you. Imagine what that could do to the quality of your relationships over time. People are interesting because they are interested. Be interested!

9. If it can be done at home then do it there. No one appreciates a lack of attention. Have the courtesy to stay at home if all you want to do is be online.

10. Only spend time around those you really care about. Do this and your respect for the company you keep will make the chatter disappear. We only get lost in the chatter when we need something better to do. Many of us forget this at the detriment of our own growth and interactions.

Genuine Interest and intrigue for your current situation are all you really need to eliminate the chatter.

Stay focused and interested

The irony of everyone coming to an event to learn about social marketing yet being so lost in the chatter that they don’t hear a thing, is too comical to pass up. But it is happening non stop. It’s effecting our learning, our concentration and our relationships.

I understand that all the chatter has it’s place in life and work, and that place is growing by the day…especially with online businesses. But it should never take presendence over your flesh and blood interactions. That’s what makes a day worth experiencing and life worth exploring.

Now give it a try. Slip on airplane mode and be interested.

Do you feel the chatter is taking over to much of your life? How have you dealt with it? Share with us in the comments section below.

If you liked this article, please Tweet about it or tell your friends on Facebook using the links below. I’d appreciate it.

Books you might enjoy:

The Power of Now
Learn to Meditate

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