One day I was having a really nice conversation with my friend, KB, and then all of a sudden he looked at his wrist watch and I thought oh he is in a hurry. So I said, “ KB, You’ve somewhere else to go?” He said, “No No! I was just looking at my watch. I did not mean anything by it.” But later I thought, how tiny diversions of attention have a big impact. And then I started to consider how many inattention habits have I developed over time.
A few months later, I was at a conference and I was sitting by myself. Just collecting my thoughts. Having a little peace and then a colleague came over very enthusiastically, wanting to tell me all his realizations from the conference. I really wasn’t in the mood but then I remembered the power of attention and its consequences. So, instead of just giving him half attention, I decided to try it out and turned my chair and face him directly, to give him my full attention.
What an affect! He was noticeably happy and surprised and he said, “I’m so grateful!”
And I thought grateful for what? It was just my attention! He had some good things to tell me, but my lasting impression was that this person became my friend and remains so just because I had given him my full attention. The effects of giving someone one’s full attention is measurable and amazing.
The lesson? People respond to the quality of attention we give them. Half-hearted attention says, “I don’t really care about you.” Purposeful, undivided attention says, “I really care for you.” The quality of attention we give to people is as important as sunshine is to plants.
As conscious beings, we have a choice about where and to whom we give our attention. Considering this, it is reasonable to say that the greatest gift, or the ONLY gift we have to offer others is our attention. Whether it’s a friend, a co-worker, a spouse, a child or anyone else, the quality of attention we’re willing to invest in them determines the overall health of our relationship.
Experiment with giving someone your full, undivided attention and see what happens. The effect will surprise you. To improve the quality of your relationships, look to the quality of the attention that you’re giving them. It’s one of the simplest things in the world, but is the one ingredient that makes healthy relationships possible.
Have you ever experiment with attention? I would love to hear your story. Please drop me a note with your realizations or if you have any questions/comments using Ask Vaish form. I would really like to hear from you.4