Now this will make a real difference in your conversations with family, friends, co-workers, and others you interact with every day.
This is a quality I first recognized in the man who would eventually become my father-in-law.
I had graduated from college and was living in North Alabama. My longtime friend from Dallas had come to visit me. I wanted to introduce him to Charlotte’s father. (Charlotte and I had begun dating.) He was the president of a small Bible college. I had come to admire him and wanted my friend to meet him. As we entered his office, he invited us to sit down. He then picked up his telephone and asked his assistant to hold his calls:
“I have two gentlemen in my office.” (We were 22 years old. Neither one of us was used to being referred to as a gentleman.)
For a few minutes, he gave us his undivided attention.
I never forgot that moment.
This is where I learned the value of giving another person one’s undivided attention.
Far too often, what people receive instead is our divided attention.
- A parent is talking with her child. Yet, as she talks, she continues to look at her phone. She checks her text messages and even sends a few texts. Meanwhile, the child is doing the same with her own phone.
- Two people go to lunch together. Yet, instead of giving one another undivided attention, they continue to check their telephones for texts, voice messages, new tweets, Facebook status updates, etc.
- A parent sits in his car waiting in line to pick up his young child from school. The parent talks on the phone as he waits. Finally, the child approaches the car. As the child opens the car door, the dad smiles at the child but continues to talk on the telephone. The child fastens his seat belt and they slowly drive away with the dad still talking on the telephone. Is this an urgent call? Perhaps. Yet, many teachers observe this almost every day. The child looks forward to seeing her mom or dad. Yet, she is not greeted by a parent giving undivided attention. Instead, mom or dad continues to talk on the phone.
Technology is wonderful. But something is wrong when we allow technology to get in the way of real live face to face communication with other people. There really is a time to ignore the devices and give another human being a very important gift:
Your undivided attention.
Listen to what that person is saying. Listen to the words and to the emotion behind the words.
Pay attention to that person. Give that person your full attention.
Be fully present.
Give a person your undivided attention and your conversations will never be the same.
Can you recall a particular time when another person gave you undivided attention? How did this feel?