The completion of a list of things you want to get done can be threatened by those who take up too much of your time. Especially in the professional domain, there are people whose comfort around you entices them to deviate their focus from the task at hand. It seems safe to say that the vast majority of the interactions you have with others have a point behind them. Even in friendly interactions, there are often goals to reach and decisions to make – as small as they may be.
A person who allows their sense of comfort to distract themselves, and those around them, from the task at hand creates an uncomfortable social scenario. They force those around them to either put a stop to the behavior which may distracting from the task at hand, or to partake in involuntary interaction. In other words, being too comfortable in our social interactions with others puts them in a position to act in a way they may not be comfortable acting. They are enticed to be uncomfortably silent, make emotionally backed remarks, and become uncharacteristically rude.
This article is about discouraging people from being misguided in their perceived sense of comfort around you whilst not socially incriminating yourself in the process. It is written for situations in which you seek to socially distance yourself from others in hopes of facilitating progress toward a specific goal.
All About the Task at Hand
A critical first step in discouraging people from allowing their comfort to derail progress toward a goal, is to know and understand the goal you’re attempting to achieve. You may be attempting to attain the expertise of a colleague to help you on a task, or talk to a subordinate about adjustments they should make in how they perform at work. There are times when the seriousness of the conversation we want to have with someone is not adhered to. As you remind yourself of the goal at hand, begin to tag the other person’s actions as being either helpful or hurtful as they relate to that specific goal.
Without the use of explicit dialogue, it’ll come time to reward their behavior depending on whether it aids the goal you have. Engagement is your best currency when it comes to rewarding someone who’s focused on the task at hand. Try not to make comments such as, “Let’s get focused please,” or “Can you please focus on the task at hand?” Explicit call outs such as those will encourage people to perceive them as rude and unwanted. They will be likelier to feel as if they’re being told to something rather than wanting to do it themselves.
Entice those who feel a bit too comfortable around you to feel discomfort within specific facets of your interaction with them. Ensure that any dialogue coming from you is strictly focused on the task at hand. Force yourself to be the person who doesn’t partake in distracting conversations that don’t aid the attainment of the goals as they were laid out. Allow others to distract themselves if they feel they need to do so. Controlling how you act in such situations is a critical second step to controlling the situation as a whole.
Don’t react emotionally to people getting distracted or being too comfortable around you. Refrain from making comments which may be perceived as standoffish or rude. Simply engage in dialogue which aids the goal you’ve set for yourself or the group at large. In your pursuit to do that however, people will ask you questions and try to pull you into comfortable, yet distracting, conversations. At the point in which silence may be perceived as anti social or rude, remember to answer questions in a close-ended manner, without reciprocating questions of your own in return.
Ongoing, flowing conversation depends on two parties asking and answering a series of questions. The questions posed in an effective conversation are reciprocal. As one person asks a series of questions, the other answers, then poses a series of questions back to the first. The concept of non-reciprocal close-endedness is simple. It entails answering questions in a close-ended manner, without asking any questions back.
You may have experienced this form of close-endedness whilst texting a crush who didn’t like you back, or attempting to fit into a conversation that the popular kids at school were having. Close-endedness entails answering questions in the shortest way that you can manage. It is being to the point, and giving the asker what they want without expanding on the matter. Being non-reciprocal entails putting a stop to your dialogue after the answer that you give, without asking a question back to the individual who began the conversation with you.
Maintain this cycle with every distracting question that someone asks, as they likely won’t just stop with one. Between each series of comfortable inquiries from the other, contrast your close-endedness with warm dialogue about the goal at hand. Remember, if the conversation is about the task in question, then you should be a warm, kind, and open individual. If the dialogue is about matters which distract, then be non-reciprocal and close-ended.