- Susan Scott
We spend much of our lives in conversation. We converse with our partners, our children, our parents, our workmates, our neighbors, everyone around us. How well we attend to the other person is often another story. We are often chatting while doing something else. Anything else. Driving. Watching TV. Making dinner. Texting. Listening to music. Watching for our stop on a bus or train.
People make a big deal out of young people (in particular) texting or being on social media rather than communicating face to face. In truth, some of those texts or social media conversations are very intense. The participants are attending closely to what the other is saying. Some of those conversations are skimmed and content or context missed. But that's true in face to face conversations as well. We're alive inside our own personal thoughts, actions, reactions, but not necessarily to what the other is communicating.
Each conversation we have with each person who is in our lives is important, significant in its own unique way. Conversations are about ebb and flow, the back and forth give-and-take of interactions. When we are distracted or focused on something other than the person with whom we are communicating, we miss cues to the deeper message behind their words.
We all want to feel heard, to be heard, to have another respond to us as though we are, in the moment, the most important person in the world. In truth, in those moments of deepest communication, we are that important. In order to receive that focus from another, we must be willing to give it. We must be willing to slow our pace. We must be willing to stop our attempt to 'multitask' and attend to another person. Listen. Attend. It's important.
How many times have you walked away from a conversation with no recall of its content? or its context? What has distracted you during your most recent conversation with another person? and the one before that? When was the last time you felt, thought or believed that another person was not paying attention while you were speaking to them? How did you feel? What can you do to keep your attention in your next conversation?