It is Olympic season, and once again we hear commentators who do not focus their thoughts on the action. And it isn’t just the Olympics that do this; it shows up far too often.
For example, some Olympic commentators lost their focus, stopped talking about the incredible talent of the athletes and talked about Gabby Douglas’ hair. Really? (Is it worth taking time to mention that it is almost always the women who are picked on?)
News commentators do the same thing. Instead of talking about a politician’s qualifications or positions, they comment on clothing, hair, or decorating ideas. (This time around Trump’s hair makes it less sexist, but no more effective.)
This often results from efforts to fill air time. It has some unfortunate effects:
- People watch the Olympics to see the athletics. As a viewer, I prefer to keep the focus on something related to the athletic action: statistics, technique, comparisons to past performances etc.
- The outcome of the heated political race is critically important to the future of this country. We are much better served when commentators keep the focus on the issues and positions so the we can make educated decisions.
- It reflects badly on the commentators, mostly because they appear unprepared and disengaged from the action. Some may wonder if they were simply too lazy to do their homework.
- Women increasingly challenge sexist comments. The days when someone can talk about women as objects instead of as human beings with talents and value other than their appeal to men are quickly disappearing. (Thank goodness!)
- It is a distraction. It takes people’s attention off what is important.
How important is focus in the business world?
Have you heard someone stray from the issue(s) at hand and make unrelated or superficial comments? Did you lose focus too? It happens in meetings, in individual conversations, in written communications and many other areas.
It is easy to prevent this type of loss of focus: before scheduling a meeting, writing a report or speaking, think for a moment about the main purpose of the meeting or communication. What is the point to be made? Keep your focus on that point and add supporting details as needed to clarify. It isn’t worth the time to digress in meetings. It isn’t good communications to digress.