One Person at a Time

I recently learned a great piece of advice from someone with a very busy schedule.  In the course of his day, it was pretty normal to have at least two of the following occurring at the same time:  someone in his office wanting to talk, someone on the telephone, and he in the middle of an email or writing a letter.  When I met him, he seemed one of the most relaxed persons I had ever met.  He told me that he used to try to multi-task all these communications--you know, talk on the phone at the same time he was writing an email or filing something, etc.  It was so easy; it made him feel like he could get everything done.  "But it actually made everything take longer," he said. "Because I couldn't really give my attention to everyone.  So now I stop what I'm doing and listen to one person at a time."

I thought this amazing advice.  No wonder he seems so relaxed.  He always gives his undivided attention to a person and his needs.  He says this actually makes it easier to help people and to help them more quickly!  What are we doing if we don't have five minutes of undivided attention for a human being?  This seems like real engagement with reality, and the only real way to build community.  This reminds me of Simone Weil's essay "Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies" which I posted about here.     



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