It’s not that he wasn’t listening. He was still in the room and his head was still pointed in my general direction. The problem was that he left the conversation.
I am certain this has happened to you. You are talking with someone and you can feel their energy and attention pointed at you. They are engaged and thinking critically and they are in the conversation. Then, at some point, they leave. Not physically, but they may as well be physically absent.
A beep from their phone. A knock on the conference room door. A previously submerged thought resurfaces. And… They are gone.
Sometimes, they never enter the conversation in a meaningful way in the first place. Sorry, but you can’t listen to me and look at your screen. Doesn’t work.
The problem is, of course, that I need you to be in the conversation. If I didn’t, then I wouldn’t be here. Queue the frustration.
Humans are naturally disposed to entertain distraction, and there has never been more distraction available. So, consider your attention a valuable gift. A gift you give the people in your life who need it most.
Treating it like the gift that it is will separate you from many others. And, the separation is what will give your organization and your team a competitive advantage.