Stay in the Moment

Ash Quote

How do you feel when you are in the middle of telling a story and your audience, whether an individual or group, looks away because something caught their attention? I have observed many such situations over time, and even more recently, thus prompting this article. Sometimes I have been the one talking, sometimes I’ve been the one who got distracted, and other times I’ve been one of the group witnessing the look on another’s face when, mid-story, they lose their audience.

For many years I have been a keen observer and student of body language, communication, and the human spirit. I have witnessed and experienced the effect of emotional highs and lows in these realms. There are so many distractions clamoring for our attention and there is also the illusion of importance associated with allowing ourselves to be distracted. Your phone may buzz, someone may come by and tap you on the shoulder, or you could simply have a thought in your head that you inadvertently blurt out because you “don’t want to forget to mention it.” This false sense of importance interferes with what’s actually taking place in the moment and in fact you gain less importance when you break the connection with the one talking to you.

“No matter how busy you are, you must take time to make the other person feel important.”
— Mary Kay Ash

I’ve witnessed many people shrug off the offense or move on to the next person, but not before noting the look of dejection, annoyance or bewilderment at what just happened. It makes people feel like they are unimportant, boring, or simply not significant. I have felt all of those feelings personally at different times. I have seen this same effect on others, sometimes caused by me. As a body language expert I have been able to recognize this and correct the situation. There are many more people though, who do not pay attention to the signs and simply continue being rude or ignorant.

What if you don’t know you are doing this? What if the people you’re talking to don’t tell you straight up that you are being rude? True friends will tell you, but not all will. And how do you receive the information if someone tells you they feel insignificant when you interrupt them or become distracted? How do you feel when you tell someone else they’ve done this to you? Do they acknowledge what you’re saying? Do they honor your feelings? Or do they make up excuses for their behavior?

“The fastest way to improve your relationships is to make others feel important in every way possible.”
— Brian Tracy

If you are aware that you’ve done this to someone who is talking to you, there are a few things you could do or say to make up for the inconsideration:
• Make eye contact
• Acknowledge with an apology
• Smile with sincerity
• Ask them to please continue
• Be attentive
• Stay in the moment
• Don’t do it again

If you are unaware of doing this to others, there are other signs you could pick up on: Do people spend less time with you? Turn their back on you? Make small talk rather than share anything significant? If more meaningful connections are not important to you then you won’t be concerned with this. If you do want more significant relationships, then fine-tuning your observation skills will be helpful.

It doesn’t have to take long to give someone your undivided attention. Most people are good with just a moment or two. If you want others to listen to you, be sure you listen to them. One of the best compliments you can get is when someone who has been doing all the talking says “wow, you are so awesome” and you haven’t said five words. You are awesome because you were attentive and made them feel important.

“When you make people feel important, you’re going to be ahead of the game.”
— Zig Ziglar

What can you do if you are the one telling the story and you lose your audience?

1. Ask them “am I boring you?” This can bring their attention back to you.
2. Analyze your audience and the content of your story. Is it the right fit?
3. Try not to be hurt, but know they may not be the company for you.
4. If they are someone whose attention you do seek, find another approach.

These song lyrics are also ring true in regard to timing, and to connecting with others:

Web of Roses by Jen Foster

I never stopped and looked, I never paid attention to you
I didn’t think that you were worth my time
A passing glance my way caught me on a day like today
And all your brilliant colors light up my eyes

I’m falling in, I’m spinning now
I’m trapped in you, and I don’t want out

You never know what impression you are making on someone else. If you are always considerate and put yourself in another’s shoes, you will become kinder, more attentive and well liked, perhaps even loved. Be mindful, and be engaged in the moments!

“Be somebody who makes everybody feel like a somebody!”