WOW Word-Of-the-Week #350: Attention

April 20, 2011 by  

Attention – careful observing or listening.

Have you noticed lately the number of people that put their full attention on their cell phones? Do you see couples in restaurants playing with their phones instead of talking to each other? Are we turning into a texting, non-verbal society?

This is a follow up to last week’s WOW on communication. Do you know that people who are focused only on themselves, generally have never developed the ability to read others? Good communicators listen 60% to 70% and talk 30% to 40% of the time.

Dr. Lyman Steil says, “Most people listen but they don’t really hear. We need to over compensate and listen more to improve out comprehension.”

Want to create an instant connection with people? All you have to do is let them talk while you listen! And that means to focus, give them your full attention, and become a careful observer.

If you want to be successful you need to really listen to your customers, guests, members, clients (and loved ones) so that you can fulfill their needs. You have to pay attention in order to serve them well, and to handle any problems or challenges that may arise.

This week focus on putting more attention on the people around you instead of yourself. How would it feel to spend more time listening and less time speaking? Do you think you have developed the ability to read others? Carefully observing to see if their face, eyes, voice, and body reinforce their words or detract from them?  Have you noticed telltale, nonverbal signs that suggest a conflict between what’s said and what’s meant?

Reader Responses

“Thanks Susan; exactly what I needed today (and every day). – Carole

“Love your thoughtful message. If I may chime in with a lovely observation one wise woman shared: ‘God gave us two eyes and one mouth so we would listen more than speak.’ Have a wonderful day!” – Your fan, Margie

“Thank you for your continued words of wisdom. This subject deffinately hits home. I know for me it boils down to nervous energy. I’m really working on channeling it into “listening power”. Taking that deep breath to let people finish before jumping in with answers.” – Amy

“As I was reading your piece on listening, all I could think of was the old “Hans and Franz” routine from Saturday Night Live, featuring Dana Carvey and Kevin Nealon. “Hear me now, and listen to me later.” That is what most people do. Many are so focused on whether their tweets went through or their latest Facebook friend list has been updated instead of actually listening to the person who is standing right in front of them. I was reading a piece in The New York Times not long ago about how young people continue to play with their smartphones or iPods while attempting to have a conversation with someone in front of them. While talking, they continue to move their thumbs on their devices. Most people are not coordinated enough to pay attention to these devices and a conversation at the same time. The Times story went on to quote people who have had to deal with this behavior, which many of them felt was rude. Over the last year I have sat in on meetings where someone was giving a speech and people in the back of the room were involved with their Blackberries, iPods, SmartPhones, etc. Talk about self-involved or self-important. There are times when I have wanted to just go over to those people, take the devices out of their hands and throw them out the window. They are more interested in these devices than in the people they are supposed to be paying attention to during the day. I told my wife the other night that these devices were the worst invention since call-waiting. One of my former bosses was the best listener I have ever seen. Whenever he stopped to talk to me, I had his full attention, including full eye contact. I felt that I had his complete attention as he listened to me without interrupting. I always try to emulate that in my professional and personal lives. I still need to work on it every day. But I am aware of how important it is to give my FULL ATTENTION to another. I am more conscious of it during phone conversations. We are all in a hurry every day. But I do make a point of trying to wait until someone is finished talking before I chime in. It is tempting to finish someone’s sentence or thought during a conversation because we want to get on to the next thing we have to do. It is something I try to work on every single day. I also remind my older daughter to make sure she listens to all the directions before she begins her schoolwork. But she still rushes. A great word. A great lesson. Thanks, Susan. Take care.” – “Warrior” Joe