When thinking about mastering the art of attention and finding the ability to overcome distractions, what is the first thing that comes to mind? How do you go about overcoming the challenges that distractions may bring you? What impact does the way we communicate with or without distractions have on the people around us? When you really try to listen to the people who are trying to have a conversation with you, it shows the importance of putting all your distractions away and shows that you care about what that person is trying to communicate with you at that moment. By doing this, you are creating strong connections and modeling the Art of Active Listening in your own way. In other words, the huge problem that we face in our daily lives is the issue of distractions driving our focus away from our relationships and engaging with others.
Addicted to Distractions
On a recent Leadership with Heart podcast, I share a story about my son. One day, I was sitting in my dining room and we were talking about the fact that I am mostly home and available for them. He said something that I will never forget, “Yeah, Mom, it’s nice that you are always here, but rarely present.” Ouch! That hurt, but after I thought about it, I realized that he was right. I had become addicted to the distractions in my life. Sound familiar? “Oh, I need to answer those emails! Oh, shoot! I just saw a zillion Slack alerts! Oh no! I forgot to respond to those text pings!” The constant distractions and attention-seekers are everywhere. Our desire for dopamine boosts from social praise and chat messages often overrides our ability to be present to the people who really need us.
Think about how your distractions affect you at home and in the workplace. It’s critical to find ways to minimize your distractions so that you can be more present for those who need you to be with them at that moment.
Here are three things to consider if you want to minimize your addiction to distractions and master the art of attention instead:
What is Your Mindset?
Ask yourself whether you are focused on serving the other person in front of you or are you going to allow distractions to be a priority? We need to have the right mindset and focus. We need to be hyper-intentional. Now, this will center our minds on the more meaningful relationships and connections we have with people. If we go into our interactions just to check the box, then distractions will continue to make their way into our ever-crowded minds.
What are Your Triggers?
What are triggers? What are the triggers that distract you from the present moment? Triggers can be your phone, laptop, and iPad popping up with many notifications with the noises as an additional distraction. The best way to combat these triggers is to turn off your notifications and to put away things such as your phone and your laptop to then focus more on the present moment. If you can figure out what the triggers are that move your attention away from those important conversations and people in your life, you can more intentionally remove them when it’s important to do so.
Be Open to Feedback
One of the most important things you can do to give others your undivided attention is to ask for feedback. Call upon those in your work, life, and family circles and tell them your goal of being more present. Tell them what to watch for and even give them instructions for how they can provide constructive feedback. Sometimes, feedback is hard to take. Nonetheless, this is a great way to confront your distractions because you get to find ways to better your active listening skills.
Overcoming distractions can very well be a long process for us because we always have so many things we feel like we need to keep up with. Slack messages, social media, and email notifications are never-ending. But we need to be intentional about mastering the art of giving others our undivided attention. To do this, we need to master our mindset, uncover our triggers and be open to feedback. Doing this will move us all much closer to having deeper and more connected relationships and results.