I’m sure that we have all been there. You’re in a conversation and you find yourself nodding along, smiling and pretending to listen. But your mind and attention are elsewhere. You’ve been distracted by your phone or an email. The person you need to speak to has just walked by. Then, that dreaded moment. You hear your name. There’s a pause. You know that it’s your turn to speak but you have no idea what to say.
“I’m sorry, can you say that again please?”
You wish you had been paying more attention.
Paying More Attention
Paying attention is more than just listening to the words that someone is using. You need to pay attention to what they are telling you. Not just the content of what they are saying. It’s about paying attention to what your senses are telling you, especially your eyes and ears.
When you pay attention, you show the other person that you value their views and perspective. You show that you care. Not only that but paying attention helps you to express yourself clearly and articulately. By paying attention you will have a better understanding of what to express and how to express it from the insight you’ve gained from what the other person said.
Put simply, paying attention builds positive relationships, improves understanding and creates connection.
A Precious Resource
Although we all have attention, it is a precious resource, and it can be difficult to manage. With the constant bombardment of information in our modern world, it’s easy to become distracted and lose focus.
Actively working to improve our attentional abilities, helps us have better conversations, build stronger relationships and avoid misunderstandings.
Practice Paying Attention
I thought I would share a few things to consider that may help you practice paying more attention when you’re in conversation:
Remove distractions: The obvious thing to do is turn off your phone and put away any other devices that may distract you (why do so many of us find this so difficult?) Find a quiet place where you can focus on the conversation without interruption.
Avoid multitasking: Stop what you are doing. Focus on the conversation and nothing else to help you stay engaged and present.
Non-verbal cues: Don’t just think about the words the other person is saying. Notice their expressions, tone and body language. What are these telling you?
Maintain eye contact: Making eye contact with the person you’re speaking with can help you stay focused on the conversation and avoid distractions.
Practice Mindfulness: Mindfulness practice can help you learn to be fully present in the moment, without judgement. Mindfulness can help you recognise when your mind is starting to wander and return your focus to where it should be.
So the next time you’re in conversation…
…put down your phone, close your laptop, and pay attention. By paying attention we can build stronger relationships, gain insight into other perspectives and avoid misunderstandings. By paying attention you will be sure to have more Savvy Conversations.
And you’ll avoid that embarrassing moment when it’s your turn to speak and you have to say “I’m sorry, can you say that again please?” Busted.
Want to know more?
Sarah Harvey is the Founding Director of Savvy Conversations Ltd and author of the highly acclaimed book “Savvy Conversations: A practical framework for effective workplace relationships.”
Linked In: https://www.linkedin.com/in/savvysarah