There are a few words in the English language that are better to avoid. While the word “focus” may be a good action to take, it makes a pitiful directive. It may be a little unclear what my meaning is here. But I believe that words convey a certain meaning when they are uttered in conversations. This could be a function of my process and I could be unique in this belief but I believe saying “focus” to someone whom you think is addled is unproductive and serves no purpose other than to create friction.

magnifying glass

For instance, if you are working on a team to complete a project the team may agree that each person take on a specific task. The project may be a big one. It may take several days or weeks. It may simply be the day to day tasks we accomplish while at work.

Distractions are an inescapable. Especially in this do it now, have no balance society to which we have evolved. Some people may get deviated in your opinion. That does not mean that they have lost sight of the project or task. I think this is particularly true of people who “multitask” or are expected to multitask. What this translates to is that if someone is working on a project or task and they stop along the way to put out fires or put a token in their self-care bank by saying hello to someone does not mean that the person has lost sight of the task. It is possible but not a given.

Maybe this scenario will make the concept easier to understand. Let’s say you work in an office and you have an assistant. That assistant does many things to keep the office going. That assistant has many tasks. That assistant needs to be nice to people during the day and that assistant may need to put out a fire that pops up. Telling that assistant to “focus” is only going to irritate them or cause them to feel bad—depending on the personality of the assistant.

What you may think of as a distraction or lack of focus might only be the day getting in the way of the job at hand. I am not talking about people who habitually forget or leave tasks undone. What I am talking about (Well, I am writing, not talking. But you get the idea.) is when someone shifts from the path YOU think they should take it does not necessarily mean that they need to “focus.” Furthermore, if that person does need to be redirected it can be done with words that are less offensive and belittling.

Other words of note to avoid or to use sparingly (because they might have that adversarial vibe) might be “listen,” “why,” “whatever” and others I am unable to think of at the moment. So please feel free to add what you believe to be trigger words in the comments below. If you are comfortable, please explain if they are specific to you or if you think they would grate on anyone’s nerves.


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