Give People Attention and Watch What Comes Back
Don't ignore this powerful need for attention.
“Hey, look at me!”
Great. Got your attention.
We all need attention. Today, we are much more isolated from one another. You work at home, away from your colleagues. When meeting someone, you often browse your phone instead of listening. You ignore the need for people to receive attention.
Attention keeps you healthy.
Research says that people who feel well-connected to others experience lower rates of cardiac disease. Even employees who feel appreciated by their supervisors are more productive and healthier.
So, do you give people your attention?
Positive things happen when you do so.
What happens when there is a lack of attention?
Lack of attention is often linked to a lack of communication. You drift apart. You don’t share values or common goals. You may feel stuck and demotivated.
Lack of attention means you:
Become afraid of speaking up
Lose connection and interest
Stop making an effort
Don’t feel confident
There are different types of attention you can experiment with at work or outside. Focus on others and see what comes back.
1. Attention to capabilities
Work is great for sticking labels and putting people in buckets. Sales, marketing, business development, accounting, etc.
But does the title of your job define your skills and capabilities? To some extent, but not exhaustively. Keep your mind open and listen to what people around you are interested in.
What do they do in their free time? What books do they read? What courses do they take? You may discover that your teammates can do much more than you thought.
“If you value people; they value your capability.” ― Sonal Takalkar
Discover talents by creating unexpected connections. Don’t do everything on your own. Let others give you a hand or a piece of advice.
Explore creative solutions by sharing stories of success and failure.
If you pay attention to other people's abilities, you will grow together. There is never a problem with micromanagement or lack of motivation when people hold each other accountable. No need to beat around the bush when quality is shi*.
The most valuable investment is getting to know others. Learn where you stand before you make any decisions.
2. Attention to feelings and attitudes
The ability to read emotions in others is key to social interactions, and emotional expressions serve as important communication signals.
Can you detect how people feel? A lot of things are happening in the background. Things like:
Someone wants to quit.
Someone is overloaded.
Someone hates his teammates.
Someone is ashamed of making a mistake.
Pay attention to feelings.
Quality of work is essential, but performance and well-being are equally important. Dissatisfied, frustrated, and annoyed coworkers might not pull the same rope as you do.
If you do not know how they feel about a change and still make them accept it, you run into problems.
Foster empathy. Let others talk without judging them.
Understand when people are not happy. Why did their motivation dip?
Dig deeper. A lot of people need to vent. They want to get it out of their systems. Then they work OK again.
Attention to feelings prevents a lot of misunderstandings. People want to be treated with respect. Give them the feeling that they are important and that you care about them.
You are likely to have loyal buddies.
3. Attention to communication
Paying attention is not about staring at others. (You can if you want to, though!).
Focus on how you communicate. Take a sec and reflect:
Do people understand what you are saying?
Do you often disagree with others?
Do people like talking to you?
Do they trust you?
Communication is a huge mystery. I am afraid you cannot avoid misunderstandings. Yet, you can try to aim for clarity and relaxed discussions.
There are two key things you need to pay attention to.
1. What people say
Communication is a two-way process. When one side is inactive, it is pointless. Learn to focus on what people say. Listen to them. It sounds banal, but I have noticed how little people pay attention to communication.
It is annoying.
When you listen, you can actually interact and find common ground. The worst (but common!) is when both talk about different things and do not meet in the middle. Don’t be stubborn. Pay respect and attention, and your daily interactions will skyrocket.
2. How they say it
You must have heard of body language. The majority of communication occurs through tones, pauses, body posture, movements of the eyes, etc.
Look at a person, and you immediately see when “no” means no.
One body language example comes from a recent Netflix docuseries. You do not have to say anything, but your body tells you what you feel. Another example that was discussed a lot was a trial testimonial from the high-profile Depp vs Heard process.
Test your receptive skills today when you speak with someone. “I am OK. Does not always mean OK.”
4. Attention to relationships
Relationships stand for attention. When you pay attention, you nourish your relationships and create connections. This happens in both your private and professional lives.
Covid pandemics, though, have disrupted relationships. Many people are still healing from lockdown trauma and have a hard time re-establishing connections with other people.
You get used to working alone, and you don’t need anyone else. Teamwork has become a strange word. Today, many teams meet every week to update one another when they do. But are they a team or rather a bunch of soloists?
But relationships keep people motivated. If you take them out of the formula, you risk building shallow connections that won’t last.
When you learn to listen to others, you notice what they miss. They tell you what they might feel:
It is visible in teams. You see who is the right fit and who isn’t. Some people never go out for a beer. They do not participate in team-building activities and feel awkward. It does not have to be their fault. They might need a doorman to help them blend in.
Likewise, when two personalities do not get along, they have to work together. They learn to keep it professional but don't seek each other’s presence. It is how it is.
Pay attention to relationships to understand how people get along. Create an environment of fun and prosperity for those around you. That is what they need.
Paying attention to others is a sign of respect, and it will help you build deeper and better relationships. Show you value other people.
When you pay attention, you see a different side of things. You make unlikely connections you didn’t have before.
Pay attention, and you will be paid attention back. Win-win.
See you next week!
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