Avoiding distractions: good communication, less danger

by Betty Lochner on September 1, 2011


I have written before about how important it is to avoid distractions while you are communicating.  About how paying attention and focusing can really pay off when you are communicating with someone.

Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that is it not only good communication practice, but it is also less dangerous.

Recently, I was texting my husband to confirm he was on his way to pick me up.  It was efficient and an easy enough task to do while I walked along.  So, instead of stopping and focusing, I walked as I texted.  Before I knew it, I tripped on an unseen crack in the sidewalk.  I went down. Hard. My pinky fingernail hit the sidewalk first and it ripped right off. 

When my husband got there he found me bloody, ripped up, and hopping around in pain. I looked like someone had just mugged me.  It was a painful and humiliating lesson.  Painful because I ripped off a fingernail; humilating because the people in cars passing by gawked while my husband suppressed a laugh.

In our technology obsessed world, it’s pretty easy to get caught up in communicating by using a cell phone  to talk or text while doing something else. Like, say, walking.  

And, I’m not alone.

Did you know that more than 1,000 pedestrians visited emergency rooms in 2008 because they got distracted and tripped, fell, or ran into something while using a cellphone to talk or text? That number is twice that of 2007, which doubled from 2006, according to a study conducted at The Ohio State University, and cited in the NY Times. I shudder to think of the 2010 stats.

Feel my pain.  Remember that you can only do one thing well at a time. We really can’t walk, talk, text AND be a good communicator all at once.

So, slow down and pay attention to one thing at a time. This little skill will pay huge dividends in becoming a better communicator. It may even save you a trip to the hospital.


Betty Lochner is the Owner of Cornerstone Coaching & Training. She specializes in personal and organizational transformation and is the author of Dancing with Strangers: Communication skills for transforming your life at work and at home. It’s also now available on Kindle!

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