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Being Fully Present
Sorry, I wasn't paying attention
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it." ~ Ferris Bueller, Gen-X Life Coach
We often listen with “half an ear” to stimuli in our environments. We might put on background music, or have the TV on so it’s not “too” quiet, or listen to a podcast while skimming our newsfeeds. However, this gets us into the habit of giving partial attention to incoming information, and when we are dealing with actual, live people, this can become a problem.
With the increase in remote interactions (through Zoom, Teams, etc.) the same little box that plays our music and our shows is now playing people, so we’re likely all guilty of not giving these people our full, undivided attention.
This is not something I say to give you a guilt-trip or anything; I just mention it so we can all be aware of it. After 15 months, we’re all pretty “Zoomed-out,” and giving full attention for hours of video calls is flippin’ DRAINING. For many people, there was a self-preservation aspect to pulling back.
As we return to more in-person interactions, though, I hope you will take the time to break any habits of giving partial attention to people when they are speaking with you. It may help to:
Put your phone face-down and in silent mode.
Angle your computer screen away from your eye-line.
Turn your head and body to fully face the speaker, when possible.
Remember that, in face-to-face interactions, you are not on mute and there is no video to turn off, so make sure your non-verbal communication conveys what you WANT it to convey. Your facial expression and any audible “huh” or “oh” or “hmmm” sounds should convey polite interest and/or be appropriate responses to what the speaker is saying.
When we are interacting with others, remember that many of them have also been through this same experience. If you see their attention wander, ask them a quick question, preferably including their name— “Bob, does this work for you so far?” It usually will snap them back quickly, and you now have their full attention for a little while longer.
You read to the end! Thank you for your attention.