Word-Of-the-Week #794: Attention

October 24, 2019 by · Leave a Comment 

Attentioncareful 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 need 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 need to pay attention in order to serve them well, and to handle any problems or challenges that may arise.

And this feedback from longtime friend and subscriber Joe, “Susan: The key is listening. 

There have been countless times where I have said something, using the words that would express EXACTLY what I wanted done, and afterward I found that it was not done the way that I wanted it done in the first place. 

One of the things that I always do when getting instructions from my wife or anyone for that matter, is to simply make eye contact and listen. When my wife wants to give me directions somewhere, I always tell her to WRITE IT DOWN! That is the best way for me to remember where it is, I am going. 

Listening, vocal intonations and eye contact have been lost in our lives due to texting and tweeting. As I have told numerous people over the past few years, most people are not very good writers so to expect them to clearly describe what they want to say in 140 to 200 characters is fruitless. This happens with many of my relatives who just don’t express themselves well in writing. When it is pointed out, their response is to apologize. 

The miscommunication due in part to texting and tweeting results in wasted time. 

Hopefully people can get back to actually speaking, listening and HEARING what others have to say.”

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?

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Word-Of-the-Week #655: Attention

February 23, 2017 by · Comments Off on Word-Of-the-Week #655: Attention 

Attention – observation and awareness of one’s surroundings.

Did you find anything awe inspiring last week? Did it spur you to want to get out and experience nature? Would you believe that the feeling of awe actually has proven health benefits?

This is part 2 of Feeling Awe May Be the Secret to Health and Happiness from the Parade article by Paula Spencer Scott. She writes, “For years, only the “big six” emotions (happiness, sadness, fear, anger, disgust, surprise) got much scientific attention. “Awe was thought of as the Gucci of the emotion world—cool if you have it, but a luxury item,” says Arizona State University psychologist Michelle Shiota. “But it’s now thought to be a basic part of being human that we all need.”

Here’s what these “wizards of awe” are discovering:

  • Awe binds us together. It’s a likely reason human beings are wired to feel awe, Keltner says: to get us to act in more collaborative ways, ensuring our survival. Facing a great vista—or a starry sky or a cathedral—we realize we’re a small part of something much larger. Our thinking shifts from me to we.

Astronauts feel this in the extreme. They often report an intense, “far out” state of oneness with humanity when looking back at Earth, called the “overview effect,” says David Bryce Yaden, a researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. Our pale blue dot “looks small against the vastness of space and yet represents all that we hold meaningful,” he says. Call it a wow of astronomical proportions.

2.5 – Average number of times a week people feel awe.

(Photo Courtesy of long time subscriber and friend Bob McCormick who wrote, “Took attached photo from my front deck a few mornings ago.” How’s that for awesome?)

Awe helps us see things in new ways. Unlike, say, fear or excitement, which trip our “fight-or-flight” response, awe puts on the brakes and keeps us still and attentive, says Shiota. This “stop-and-think” phenomenon makes us more receptive to details and new information. No wonder Albert Einstein described feelings of awe as “the source of all true art and science.”

  • Awe makes us nicer—and happier. “Awe causes a kind of Be Here Now that seems to dissolve the self,” says social psychologist Paul Piff of the University of California, Irvine. It makes us act more generously, ethically and fairly.

In one experiment, subjects spent a full minute looking at either an impressive stand of North America’s tallest eucalyptus trees or a plain building. Not surprisingly, the tree-gazers reported higher awe. When a tester “accidentally” dropped pens in front of the subjects, the awestruck ones helped pick up way more than the others.

75% – How much awe is inspired by the natural world.

  • Awe alters our bodies. Awe is the positive emotion that most strongly predicts reduced levels of cytokines, a marker of inflammation that’s linked to depression, according to research from University of Toronto’s Jennifer Stellar. That suggests a possible role in health and healing, and may help explain the raft of recent studies that have linked exposure to nature with lower blood pressure, stronger immune systems and more. Researchers even wonder whether a lack of nature and other opportunities for feeling awe might add to the stresses and health damage that come from living in urban blight or poverty.

This week’s focus is paying attention to the awe around you and how it makes you feel. Would you like to be nicer and happier? Would you like to be more receptive to details and new information? Would you like to be as healthy as possible without taking prescription drugs?

Stay tuned – next week 7 Ways to Find Awe in Everyday Life!

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

Word Of the Week #580: Attention

September 16, 2015 by · Comments Off on Word Of the Week #580: Attention 

Attention – the act of mentally concentrating on a single object, thought, or event.

How often do you concentrate on a single object, thought, or event? Do you tend to multi task and not concentrate on any “one” thing? Have you ever spent time doing something but didn’t give it your full attention?

This New York Times article really hit home for me and a great follow up to last week. “What Is Our Attention Worth as an Asset?” written by Carl Richards reads, “Pay attention! We hear this command a lot. People want to remind us to focus on what we’re doing. But I’ve been thinking about a more literal meaning: paying with our attention.

Attention is a currency. We choose how to spend it, just like we spend our time and money. Unlike money, however, there’s no way to store attention for later use. It’s a bit like time; we use it or lose it.

But attention is more complex than just the time it requires. You can spend time on something and still not pay attention to it. I’ve become painfully aware of that point while spending time with my daughter but paying attention to my Twitter stream.

Our attention might be the most in-demand asset we have to offer. We could spend 100% of our attention online, and the internet would still serve up more clickbait begging for our attention.

So given the value of our attention, shouldn’t we pay more attention to how we spend it?

a attentionPretend you woke up tomorrow and someone took all the things you now pay for with attention and switched it to money. To spend time on Facebook, you would have to enter your credit card number. To check out what your friends are doing on Instagram, you would need to pull out that card again. How much time would you spend on Twitter then?

Social media is an easy target, but it provides a great example of how we don’t associate our attention with a cost. We think of certain things as being free, but if it requires our attention, we’re paying a price of sorts. What item on our to-do list didn’t we complete because we spent an hour on Facebook? Did we miss an opportunity to spend time, in person, with a friend? Did we pass up the chance to take a continuing education course that we needed to stay current at work? Did we miss an important appointment?

This concept sounds simple, but in practice, we don’t always realize we’re making a trade. For a week, I challenge you to ask one question before you do anything that seems free: If I had to pay $20 to do this, would I still do it? The price is high enough to make you think, but low enough that if you really want to do something, you’ll feel comfortable saying ‘yes.’

Then, see what happens. What items make you hesitate? What activities feel even more valuable?

The goal is to pause for a moment and ask what our attention is really worth.”

This week’s focus is on your attention. What is your attention worth to you? Is there anything you pay attention to that if you had to pay for it would stop? What are you paying attention to?

I LOVE feedback! Join my Facebook community on my FUN-damentals Fan Page.

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

April 20, 2011 by · Comments Off on WOW Word-Of-the-Week #350: Attention 

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