The Gift of Your Attention
There were five of them.
Teenagers, between 13 and 16, I suppose, at a table next to me in a cafe.
I heard periodic chuckles, and now and then one would reach over and show the others whatever fascinating thing was on their private screen.
I’m old enough that this behavior still fascinates me.
The five of them were “together,” yet strangely distant.
This scene is disturbingly common now. (As is the practice of appearing like you are paying attention on zoom, while simultaneously checking email.)
Today is Valentine’s Day. A day to celebrate love.
And I don’t know about you, but I’m not really into candy or overpriced roses.
I would much prefer a good conversation… remember those?
- Eye contact.
- One topic at a time.
- Exploratory questions.
- No screens.
Seems like we have to make a concerted effort to have this kind of interaction nowadays.
Even my 81 year old dad spent more time texting during Christmas dinner than he did engaged in the conversation that was going on right around him.
Today I urge you to give the gift of your attention to those around you… not just those at home who might otherwise (or also) get candy, roses and a hallmark card, but each and every person you encounter today.
Don’t just ask, “how was your weekend?” but LISTEN to the answer, and follow-up with a relevant question.
- Listen a little longer.
- Ignore the compulsion to talk about yourself or think about what you can’t wait to say next.
- Pay attention to what the person is saying, and what they are NOT saying.
- Watch their facial expression, their eyes and their body posture.
- Attend to their tone of voice.
Listening like this is not foreign. We all do it now and then when we feel that the circumstances allow it.
Unfortunately, we often convince ourselves that "we don't have time" to give our full attention.
Today I ask you to make every situation an opportunity to listen for real.
Your attention and caring is the greatest gift you can give.
I think you're going to love it!
P.S. Effective managers learn to focus their attention and create ample space for quality conversation. And, they enjoy amazing rewards in return! Their employees are happier, stay longer, and perform better! This is called, “Coaching.”
If you want to learn to be a much more effective manager, join me for my upcoming LIVE online course, “Coaching for Excellence.” Starts March 16. Join me!