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Busy is the New Stupid

Let me get the footnote of attribution out of the way. I “borrowed” that line, with permission, from my great friend and business school classmate, Phil Bonanno. And now back to our regularly scheduled program…

My colleagues and I talk all the time about how listening, awareness and respect are critical building blocks of persuasion. You simply can’t get there from here… you can’t get to a place of great communication if you don’t “show up,” listen and respect people. But this is a struggle for lots of people. We hear all the time, and we also FEEL it all the time, that being present is hard. So many demands on our time. So many access points. So many distractions. So, so, so, SO hard to just be present in the moment.

We get it. We are all struggling with busy. But the point that Phil was making (as a comment on a great article by a woman named Cassie Roma) is that because we are all so busy, we all now have a built-in excuse to dodge the things we don’t want to deal with. To quote Cassie directly, “we glorify the hell out of being busy.” Think about it… when you see someone that you have not seen in a while, and you ask some version of the “how are you doing” question, how often do you get back an answer that includes the word “busy”? Constantly, I am sure. I do it also. We all do it.

Busy is the new normal. And because it is the new normal, we all have an automatic “out” when we don’t want to do something. Want to skip that meeting? “Too busy.” Want to punt on that awkward conversation that you don’t want to have? “Too busy.” Want to skip that family gathering that you desperately want to avoid? “Too busy.”

We use our busy-ness as a shield. We allow ourselves to do it. We allow each other to do it.

What do we do about it? We have to hold ourselves accountable and realize that some things require more than our physical presence. We have to be mentally present. We have to start realizing that when we play the “too busy” card, we are hurting ourselves, our own effectiveness, and disrespecting the people around us.

In addition, we have to hold each other accountable. Set expectations within your team. Create organizational norms about attention and respect. Reward the good behavior and call out the bad behavior. The simplest behavior changes can have a huge impact.

Someone once said to me that the greatest act of love is to simply be present and listen to another person. It is true at home, at the office, everywhere.

Have a great day.

At The Latimer Group, we believe that great communication skills can change the world. We transform people and organizations with simple, repeatable techniques and mindsets. We teach persuasive communication skills through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and eLearning. To learn more about how we can transform your organization, e-mail us at

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