Lately I have been thinking about the idea of asking another person for their full attention. How many times do you go into someone’s office and they do not give you their undivided attention? They might for a few minutes and then maybe they get distracted by their phone or computer and you wonder, is my meeting important to them? On the flip side, I also wonder if I give everyone my full and undivided attention? Are we all in the end just the same? Someone does not give us their attention and we in turn do that to someone else?
What would it look like if we were direct and transparent with everyone about our attention? What if we confronted others when we were not getting what we deserved? What would that look like? Would it mean that we actually called someone out when they stopped focusing on the conversation, tuned out, or got distracted? I am actually getting excited thinking about it. I would love if someone did that to me and held me accountable for when I was getting distracted. In turn I hope I would do that for others that do it to me.
Are our phones and computers, the emails, texts, and whatever other notifications really more important than the person that sits right in front of us? Sometimes they are. Sometimes emergencies happen or are boss alerts us to an urgent need, but many times we get bored, or clearly are easily distracted. I am not exempt from this — I need to focus on where my attention is just the same. Chris and I were just talking about it last night. There are times where I am doing too many things at once and my nature to multi-task means I might miss things along the way. However, in the same conversation we discussed that he had not given the needs of the conversation his clear attention. What he was thinking might not have been what he actually shared aloud and due to the lack of information there were key details that I needed that never got shared.
Our full attention is important in so many interactions. At the deepest level it shows that we care, and that the other person matters. I would say I do give a lot of my life my full attention, but I can see some clear areas that I could work on. Try it. See where you are not giving your full attention. Put your phone down, quit texting, and leave the emails. Be present for the other person, they deserve it.
How often do you formulate what you are going to say while someone else is talking? How often do you truly listen to what the other individual is saying to you? How often do you check out, get bored, or have too many other things going on in your brain? I am definitely known to have way to much going on in my brain, to the extent that sometimes the words that come out of my mouth sound like babble and do not make sense to others. Maybe it is information overload.
We all could listen more, but we can also talk less. They go hand in hand. It makes me ask the questions: “Do you listen to get to the next part of your day, do you truly care when listening, and do you talk to talk and be heard, or because you have something to say? Sometimes I think that some people talk to fill the open space. They are uncomfortable with silence, and quiet moments, so they do what they can to fill that silence, to fill that space. However awkward it might be, for them and everyone else.
Here is a thought (not grand, or new, or cutting edge). What if you listen more? Truly and intensely listen. Ask questions. Explore if you truly understand what someone else is saying and take the focus off you. Hard? Yes. Worth it? Yes. I care about each individual I interact with and I want them to feel that care. I genuinely want to listen, and I want others to give me the same respect and focus. Is that so hard? Are we asking each other to do too much? Hell no. We just need to get rid of our brainless distractions and “be” with another. Listen, go deep, be present, and get rid of mindless chatter, pointless conversation, and focus on what really matters.
I am going to make it a focus to keep working on how I listen. Let my mind slow down from all the elements of multitasking, breathe, and be in the moment where I truly focus on the other individual and give them my time.