Multitasking and communication: the big myth

by Betty Lochner on January 17, 2011

Are you good at multitasking while you are communicating?

Many of us think we are. But, think again.

Multitasking is a myth

Oh, I know you think you can multitask. Most of us really do believe that we can do more than one thing at once: like carrying on a meaningful conversation while we are typing, reading, watching TV, texting or doing a million other daily distractions.

Some of us even look like we are pretty good at it. But really, those that do just have a great memory for what they were doing last and switch back and forth quickly. But, it’s a myth. It’s not really happening. Your brain can only focus on one thing at time.

So, what’s the problem?

The big problem with multitasking is that it can be a very real communication problem.  To communicate well, we need to focus.

Have you ever walked into a room and you can’t remember why you are there?  It is most likely because your mind is focused on something else while you were walking.

When we multitask, we are rapidly switching our focus back and forth from one task to another. Each time we do that, there is a delay as we refocus. This delay can greatly influence how well we are doing each activity and the amount of time it takes to complete it (or do it over).

But don’t take my word for it. There are countless studies that have found that multitasking is simply not possible. One of my favorite books, Brain Rules, by John Medina, describes some of the current studies on this subject. If I haven’t convinced you, he will.

The bottom line

When you are communicating with someone, take the time to fully focus on the conversation.  It will provide for greater understanding and meaning. It may even save you a bunch of time. You won’t have to ask “what?”  when you are off on another brain activity and miss something. Or worse, you may miss something important and not notice.

So put the phone down, look up from the TV or whatever else you are doing, and connect fully and exclusively to communicate well!

I’d love your feedback! Please share your comments below.


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. And, it’s now available on Kindle! Check it out.

To find out more about Cornerstone’s services and offerings visit our website:

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 employer identification number January 23, 2011 at 1:24 pm

My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

2 Christine Morris January 17, 2011 at 10:47 am

This is a great topic! Focus is something so many of us have lost over the years! Some say we live in an “ADD” society and your post is a great reminder to take the time to connect with those around us!

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