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Help achieve specific personal and professional goals by developing potential, improving relationships, and enhancing performance. As an executive, your career success will depend on an ongoing strategy, active engagement in your career direction, and routine updates of your resume and online presence.

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The firm's headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, Mexico City with partner firms in the rest of the world .

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How to keep conversations focused and on-track

By Jose Ruiz

Jose Ruiz serves as Alder Koten’s Chief Executive Officer providing vision, strategic direction and the roadmap for the firm’s future. He is also involved in executive search work focused on board members, CEOs and senior-level executives; and consulting engagements related to leadership and organizational effectiveness helping clients create thriving cultures.

Jose can be reached at [email protected] and +1 (713) 893-1630 Ext. 810

Today, our attention is spread too thin due to 24/7/365 constant distractions, which make keeping conversations flowing with focus and on track quite a challenge. Before we can apply the most appropriate attention management strategies, we need to recognize the types of attention and the available tools. We also need to recognize the various internal conditions, such as emotional and psychological, that contribute to our inability to focus.

The following are four strategies relating to effective attention management.

First things first, according to neuroscience, there are two types of attention: voluntary and involuntary.

Understand and distinguish both, so you can remove the distractions before starting the conversation. Both types of attention relate to external distractions and, whenever possible, should be eliminated before they attract our attention.

Voluntary attention relates to attention that we can control, and involuntary attention refers to the one that we cannot control. Both have been in existence throughout human evolution to help us survive. While the former can be controlled by removing obvious distractions, like conversing in a quiet room and without a blaring TV in the background, the latter still grabs our attention despite we now live in a relatively safe and comfortable environment where there is no immediate danger, like a wild animal preying us. This makes us continuously being distracted by the smallest beep on our phone or the chime of an email notification.

Second, choose a right timing in the day when you’re most alert.

When discussing important things, choose a good time when you’re most focused. If you’re a morning person, have important conversations in the a.m. If you’re a night owl, choose the p.m.   Mental fatigue is the worst enemy of any conversation, as you wouldn’t be able to focus at all, so it is crucial to pick a time when your mental is most receptive.

However, whenever the time is not on your side, like most of us are, act the best you can by clearing mental clutter at least 30 minutes before the conversation. Do a five-minute meditation to retain your mindfulness. This way, at least your mind is refreshed and more ready to accept new information.

Third, clean up your negative emotions, which make up the internal distractions.

Anxiety, worry, anger, low self-esteem, and other negative emotions often carry over in conversations due to past experiences or present state of light depressive mood. Be mindful of your mood and emotions at any given time.

When this occurs, think of at least three positive things or events that would offset one negativity, as suggested by Barbara Fredrickson, a well-respected psychology researcher at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Psychotherapists may call this “self-hypnosis” or something of that sort. The key is recognizing your current negative mood and think and act in contrary of it.


Fourth, shift and reframe occurring thoughts that distract you from the conversation track.

When unrelated thoughts come flooding your mind while talking about something else, recognize them and apply the brakes. Immediately shift and reframe the unrelated thoughts to what is being discussed. Remember, you are the owner of your mind, so the only one who can control it is you. You don’t need to succumb to them.

In conclusion, keeping a conversation focused and on track requires a high control of self. While external distractions can be relatively easier to manage, internal distractions require more inner power to tackle.

About Alder Koten

Alder Koten helps shape organizations through a combination of research, executive search, cultural & leadership assessment, and other talent advisory services. The firm was founded in 2011 and currently, includes 6 partners and over 28 consultants in 4 cities. The firm’s headquarters are located in Houston and it has offices in Guadalajara, Monterrey, and Mexico City with partner firms in New York, Boston, Chicago, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Denmark, Finland, France, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, and United Kingdom. We know where to find the executives you need and how to attract top talent to your organization. Our approach to executive search is based on a thorough understanding of the strategic, cultural, financial and operational issues our clients face. Our executive search engagements are targeted and focused on the specific requirements of the position including industry and functional experience, skills, competencies, cultural fit, and leadership style. Our process is rigorous. We take a disciplined and structured approach to identifying potential candidates that meet the position requirements including subject-matter, functional and regional expertise. We use our high-level professional networks, industry knowledge, and internal research resources to achieve results in every executive search engagement.This is a text block. Click the edit button to change this text.