Interpersonal Skills

Digistraction & Connection – December 2021

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management, News

Digistraction & Connection – December 2021


“Digistraction is the result of multiple digital media and devices colonising our attention.”

Nancy Kline

Stop! Thief!

If someone stole your property, wouldn’t you complain?

Of course you would. So why do we allow digital devices and platforms to steal our time and attention without challenge?

It’s not even without challenge. They do it by invitation and with our consent and compliance.

So, why should we care about Digistraction? Because our propensity for consumption of information, data and media is having a detrimental effect on our health, relationships and performance at work.

“Continuous partial attention is an always on, anytime, anyplace anywhere behaviour that creates an artificial sense of crisis.”                                             

Linda Stone, Microsoft

The competition for our attention is heavily skewed away from us as users and the attention economy spends all its time getting us to care about things we didn’t want to care about. The temptations are ever-present, especially if we can’t’ let go of the blue light from our devices long before bedtime. It affects our sleep, other non-work activities (leisure, cooking, housework, socialising & fitness) and work itself. It can range from so-called clickbait to far more intrusive and repetitive distractions that take us and our minds away from what we planned or hoped to do.

Are we doomed, or can we do anything about it? Luckily, all is not lost but we need to face up to it and stop pretending we are unaffected. We should also stop kidding ourselves that we can multitask successfully and have adapted to a new way of managing our attention.

A checklist could include:

  • Turn off all notifications
  • Delete as many apps as you can
  • Turn your colour palette to greyscale
  • Distance yourself from your devices – especially at night
  • Manage your life by yourself and don’t rely on hardware or software to do it


Try this for a few weeks and see what difference it makes. Hopefully, at least, you will sleep better and find you can concentrate for longer periods. Remember, it’s a lopsided contest and each time we open a social media app, there are 1,000 people on the other side of the screen paid to keep us there.

If you want to take it further, or introduce the concept to your team, talk to us about it and let us share even more secrets of how to avoid digistraction.


Have you lost your connection?

Since the initial lockdown, we have all found work hugely different and no one is finding it easier, even if we enjoy the short commute!

One of the main missing features has been the loss of connection between managers and their teams and within teams themselves now that people meet so rarely. Hybrid working in whatever form may be only part of the answer, given the fragmented nature of remote and workplace arrangements.

Of course, connection may not be entirely lost. It may be just dormant and awaiting a spark to re-ignite it. Many of the factors that improve cohesion and togetherness at work can still be there. They may only need a wakeup call.

Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code” talks about highly successful teams and organisations using a set of “belonging cues.” These are ways that people who work together send messages to each other that affirm “you are safe here.”

The basic qualities are:

  • Energy – they invest in the exchange that is occurring
  • Individualisation – they treat the person as unique and valued
  • Future orientation – they signal the relationship will continue

Taken together, they combine to create a quality of communication that is soft, yet rich and powerful.

These are quite common features of high-performing teams that Coyle has studied in a variety of situations, including: creative industries, media, military, professional sports, manufacturing, hospitality & retail.

In such teams, belonging cues contribute to success in five measurable ways:

  1. Everyone in the group talks & listens in equal measure, keeping contributions short
  2. Members maintain high levels of eye contact and their conversations and gestures are energetic
  3. Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader
  4. Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
  5. Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with the others

These factors ignore every individual skill and attribute we usually associate with high-performing groups and replace them with behaviours we would normally consider as quite primitive and lacking in sophistication. And yet, the signalling that certain primates engage in with each other can be harnessed to achieve extraordinary performance and success in human teams.

Researchers like Sandy Pentland also endorse this stating that simply hearing something doesn’t result in changes in behaviour. Normally we think that words matter, and that group performance correlates with its members’ verbal intelligence and their ability to construct and communicate complex ideas. But that assumption is wrong.

Words are noise and group performance depends on behaviour that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected.

Translating these concepts and the resulting behavioural change into a digital or hybrid workplace is challenging but possible. It takes trust and commitment as well as skill. If you’d like to explore these ideas with us to help support your workforce as they work through the changes in the world of work, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to talk with you.

Future Strategy and Skills for 2021

By Change, Coaching, Interpersonal Skills, Productivity

Future Strategy and Skills for 2021

Future Strategy

Piling more change on top of existing change was never considered a good idea. Better to let thigs bed down, we used to say. Let things settle down for a bit. That was then and this is now however, where old rules no longer apply.

We have made lots of changes this year – website, digital platforms, skills and products. But we aren’t done yet and are determined to adapt to an ever more rapidly changing world of work. With that in mind, we have been doing some spring cleaning of our products and services and are intending to move the business to become simpler and easier to explain (for us) and to understand (for clients). This is more likely to be evolutionary change rather than revolutionary, but we want to make some switches to ensure that what we produce is relevant and valuable, rather than nice to have.

We are also looking at additional markets to enter and are likely to develop our B2C (business to consumer) routes much more in future.

All positive and very exciting for us and we hope for you too, so watch this space!


At Future Proof Learning, all of us are avid learners and are passionate about learning and development, both our own and our client’s. And while the world was plunged into turmoil and the world of work was flipped upside down, we took the opportunity to learn new skills which we could utilise in the new way of working and beyond.

This opportunity has proved extremely beneficial for us. It has allowed us to create some brand new concepts and ideas to add to our repertoire as well as identifying new ways to deliver workshops and training sessions.

At the beginning of Lockdown in April, we enrolled in a 3-week course with Learning Stone. During that programme we got an excellent overview and introduction to online-blended learning as a concept. It gave us a great foundation to build our confidence, knowledge and experience of delivering programmes online. This training programme opened our eyes to what virtual tools and platforms are available, some of which we are now using every day. Obviously, we are currently operating on an “online only” basis, however we feel that the learning we gained from Learning Stone will also be implemented and utilised when we (hopefully) return to the physical training room.

Later in June, we signed up to a 4-part course with Shona Marshall at the ASM Difference. Her approach gave us great insight to how to adapt our delivery style to suit the online environment. While we had now acquired the practical skills to running workshops online through our learning with Learning Stone, we really valued Shona’s training on how to manage our online style to suit this new environment – how we can stimulate engagement and participation, keep everyone on the learning journey with us and ultimately achieve the client’s desired outcomes.

Since Lockdown began we have also attended a number of webinars through the Association for Coaching. These have been excellent for continuing our own development and for learning some new approaches and techniques to use with our coaching clients. We have attended sessions such as Mindfulness in Coaching, Developing a Growth Mindset and The Five-Minute Coach.

Over the last nine months, we have continued to learn new skills and develop new ways of working in the digital environment and have now settled into our very own style. We have adopted new ideas and concepts which are now starting to feel routine and natural. We are very excited to continue our learning and bring some of these new approaches with us for whatever 2021 has in store for us!

CSR – pro-bono summary

One of the positive effects of the pandemic has been this collective way of helping others in our community. When everything seemed dark and gloomy, people found ways of coming together and offer help where they could. We took the opportunity to offer some pro-bono work during these last nine months. Not only do we feel that pro-bono work can assist organisations and their people who might not otherwise have access to it, but we also get something out of it too. Whether that’s upskilling and providing experience for our staff or broadening our own perspectives and taking on new and different challenges.

While we have offered quite a bit of pro-bono coaching, we have also provided facilitation and L&D consultancy and advice. We have also provided free weekly webinars, available for anyone to attend, covering a range of topics from leadership to resilience.

We will continue to offer pro-bono work on a regular basis as we can see the benefit of this, both to the organisations we work with as well as ourselves.

Future Skills Index – Top 10 Skills for the Future

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management, News

Future Skills Index – Top 10 Skills for the Future

The world of work is changing very rapidly, and we have a lot of catching up to do to match that pace. Since I set up the new business, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the way we are likely to work in the future and in particular, the skills we will need. That may not be the skills we will need most as individuals, but the skills our organisations will require to sustain and improve. This is critical for young (and older) people in the workplace and those about to enter.

With that in mind, we’ve been working on a Future Skills Index that we hope gives some shape to the potential demands our organisations and people face. The list below is drawn from a recent survey of our clients and our wider network.

  1. Collaboration
  2. Digital
  3. Innovation
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Learning
  6. Flexibility
  7. Problem Solving, Social Perceptiveness, People Management, Influence, Service Orientation
  8. Active Listening, Decision Making
  9. Finance, Information Ordering, Time Management
  10. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Science, Operations Analysis, Instructing

We asked people to rate, from a longer list, the 5 most critical skills that their organisations and people needed to acquire, maintain, or develop. Our observations are that some of these are what we would expect in terms of looking to the future, such as: digital & innovation. However, there was a fair degree of support for more “traditional” skills such as: reading, writing & speaking. In addition, it was encouraging to see the emphasis people placed on learning, critical thinking & active listening as well as the inclusion of people management – one that we hope never goes away!

It’s our intention to continue monitoring how trends emerge and develop and to update this at least annually. If you have any favourites, or particular points of emphasis, or even questions about why some things are missing, please get in touch and keep the conversation going.

Are you Intelligent – or Emotionally Intelligent?

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management

Are you Intelligent – or Emotionally Intelligent?

Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence can account for around 80% of the reasons why people are successful in work & life. We are delighted to announce a new partnership with CCR3, the global diagnostics and people development consultancy. This partnership will offer us access to an even wider range of personality and ability measurement tools, including the EQ Discovery Process. This exciting diagnostic tool enables us to understand how we think and make decisions in both our personal and professional lives. It’s fundamentally important to understand how we actually do this, as it’s the first step to exceptional decision making on a consistent basis.

There are 3 styles of thinking which determine how you view everything. These are: Empathy, Practical and Systemic thinking. The combined scoring of all 3 dimensions that have the appropriate bias will determine how balanced your thinking and decision-making is. The reports that we produce illuminate your thinking and decision-making style to help you become more balanced, and the more balanced you can be in making a decision, the better the decision!

This is known as your Talent Engine and the aim is to get a balance of all three dimensions when thinking and making a decision. If you want to find out more about your own talent or potential for enhancing your decision-making, why not sign up for a free report?

For any enquiries or to complete the EQ Discovery Process, please email us at