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Pay Attention! A Listening Skill That is Priceless

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Have you ever been talking to someone on the phone and you hear the keyboard clicking in the background? While this experience used to be reserved for telemarketers, it has spread to virtually everyone. You may have even heard your mother doing this. How does it feel to be second, third, or even worse when you are talking to someone? No one likes be the second fiddle.

The Value of Full Engagement
Now, think about a time when you were the most important person in the world to someone else. How did you feel about the other person? Capture that feeling in your mind's eye. Everytime you fully engage in a conversation, you are communicating to them that they are important to you. Keep in mind that what you are getting in life is what you are giving to others. If you are giving undivided attention, you will get undivided attention in return.

Undivided attention is a critical factor in developing a meaningful relationship with anyone. Our attention span is the portal through which all interactions with the world take place. Who or what are you allowing into your portal? By fully engaging with the person on the phone or right in front of you, you are controlling what is controlling you.

How Can You Increase Your Attention Span?
Why is it so difficult to pay attention when someone is talking? You may feel relieved to know that paying attention is not easy for anyone. What? Since your mind can process more than 500 words per minute, it takes effort to fully focus on someone who talks at about a third that speed. (Most people talk at about 150 words per minute). As we know, any vacuum will be filled. So, if you are in a conversation, either you will be thinking about what the other person is saying or you will be thinking about something else.

One way to ensure that you are thinking about what the other person is saying is to ask questions. You may ask these questions out loud or to yourself. The point is to clarify what the person is saying and use your brain's processing power on the other person not something else. A powerful question to ask is "how do you mean?" This question is open-ended and incites further information.

Another way to focus on what the other person is saying is to paraphrase. In other words, repeat what the person said but re-phrase it. (See what I just did?) This also gently alerts the other person that you are, in fact, paying attention.

Use these techniques, engage fully in your conversations, and watch your relationships flourish like never before. Paying attention is truly a skill that costs nothing that provides a value that is priceless.
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