It was a busy morning in our house, and I needed to leave early. I asked my kids to do several things before they left for school.
The first thing I asked my daughter to do involved looking up information on her phone. While she was doing that, I said, “Please make sure to get the recycling out to the street, and close the garage door.”
I headed out to my car. As I started the engine, I was looking straight into the open garage, with the recycling sitting inside it. In my rearview mirror, my daughter was getting into her own car. What was going on here?
I got out of my car and jogged over to her window. “Hey, I needed you to get the recycling to the street.” She looked at me, totally bewildered. “You did?”
As she ran into the garage to deal with it, I thought back. I was in a hurry to get out of the house, so I lobbed a list of requests in her direction, not bothering to make sure she received them. And this is key: the first thing she was doing involved a task on the phone. Her brain was occupied with the visual task of searching and swiping, so she literally couldn’t hear me .
New plan: I’m not going to talk to anyone while they’re finishing up a task on their phone, and by the same token, I’ll ask someone who wants to speak with me to wait just a second until I can give them my full attention.