Wednesday, December 14, 2020

Lowered I.Q. and Bad Manners Caused by Obsessive Communication

An article in The Guardian, a leading British newspaper, in April 2004 reveals that how you handle e-mails can affect your I.Q. The study used 1,100 people and was carried out by psychologists at Kings College, London University, on behalf of Hewlett Packard. The purpose was to see the effect of constant distractions on productivity and concentration.

Too many people are addicted to watching for new e-mails. As soon as one arrives, they stop whatever they're doing to read it, often taking more time out to reply at once. The result is continual distraction and changes of direction that produced similar levels of tiredness in a few hours to losing a whole night's sleep. In terms of I.Q., those who acted in this way showed startling falls: an average loss of ten I.Q. points, compared to the typical loss of only four I.Q. pints found in people who smoke cannabis. They also became sleepy, lethargic and lost much of their ability to focus. Not surprisingly, productivity fell sharply.

In the same study, it was found that 20% of the people taking part reported breaking off from social engagements and meals to handle e-mail messages and send replies. They also did this during business meetings or face-to-face discussions. Many simply couldn't resist answering a cellphone and making follow-up calls, even though 98% agreed it was rude. Significantly, around 30% felt the practice is "becoming acceptable" or showed "diligence and efficiency." Two thirds of the people questioned said they regularly checked work e-mails in their non-working time—even on vacation.

Far from showing diligence, the study proves this type of compulsive behavior leads to poorly-focussed, distracted thinking and lowered performance. Organizations that expect or encourage such actions are going against their own interests; while people who do this voluntarily are slowly destroying their intelligence.

Do you have your e-mail software open all the time your computer is on? Do you rush to check incoming e-mails as soon as they arrive? Do you drop whatever you're doing to send a response? Why?

My guess is there is no good reason for such behavior, however you try to justify it. It's a habit; a compulsion. Many people cannot allow a telephone to ring, even when they have an answering machine to take the call. Call it curiosity, or nervousness, or plain fear that this call, this time, may be something you can't afford to miss. Call it what you like. At bottom, it's insecurity run rampant.

Bad news will reach you quickly enough. Other news can wait until you're ready. One of the simplest steps you can take to cut down on stress and distraction is to refuse to deal with incoming phone calls and e-mails until a set time, determined in advance. Don't drop everything else to reply even then. Most "urgent" requests are nothing of the kind. The urgency is applied to everything.

Set your priorities and stick to them. Make people aware how you're proposing to work. Resist all their attempts to force you back into running your life by their imaginary deadlines. It isn't worth it. They aren't thinking about you anyway; they're only focused on themselves, and making you jump helps them feel important. Do you want to feed their egos? My guess is they're more than fat enough already.

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Anonymous said...

I totally agree.People are so addicted to their feeling no one can do without me so I have to attend to this right now.
Often mid sentence.I am always annoyed by such people.

7:41 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

Thanks for your comment, Anon.

7:53 AM  
Anonymous said...

I find this interesting. Of course it does not mention other interruptions demmanding attention (like the author of this blog site constantly "popping" into your office to see if you have read his latest blog!)
Just kidding Mel.

10:41 AM  
Carmine Coyote said...

I'd never do that, Mel. I'd simply assume my posts are so fascinating you couldn't wait to go look for them yourself.

Keep reading, my friend.

4:16 PM  

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