Here is the fourth of a series of brief blogs introducing The Relationship Journey in my chapter on Active Listening from The Journey Inside. Today is all about Attention.
From our first days at school, we were told to, “Pay attention”, and later in life, we were accused of, “Not paying attention”. In many cases, of course, we weren’t paying attention, in others though, we believed we were. So why is there a difference?
We believe that simply being in front of someone is enough to hear them, which from a hearing perspective is enough. However, from a listening perspective, this is inadequate. We need to give the speaker our full attention.
You know when, at a deep level, whether or not the person in front of you is paying attention to you or not. If not, we stop thinking, we get confused, (as someone shared, “we start thinking stupid”), and we may even stop talking altogether.
When they pay attention, it feels different…
What might this attention feel like?
Think back to a time when you had a particular problem, and you were able to share it with a close friend. You were able to share your problem fully, even though you paused and went quiet a couple of times because you wanted to make sure your thoughts were in the right order.
You recall that the person listening had their eyes on you all of the time, not staring at you, just a gentle gaze. They did not interrupt you, which is unusual, they seemed comfortable with the silences and gaps in the conversation and did not try to fill them. They were calm and still throughout the time you were speaking.
Best of all, you felt they were interested in what you had to say; you felt validated, heard, and that your words mattered. Overall, you felt, at that moment, you were the most important person to them.
When you give someone your full attention it can feel like, to them, the greatest gift they could have ever received.