Why paying attention to people is more important than we might think

We are living in an era in which conversations sometimes tend to be pretty superficial because we prefer to rely on chat apps instead of calling or meeting someone in person. Sure, communicating through a device has its advantages in many cases, but even if we get responses to our messages, sometimes we can’t be certain that the other person is genuinely interested.

I have always felt anxiety when talking with someone, less with those I know, but still. In this sense, thinking about what paying attention means is something that has made me feel more comfortable in those situations.

So what happens when we are having a conversation face to face with a friend, colleague or a member of our family and it seems like none or one of them (including us) isn’t paying attention?

To be a good listener isn’t that easy, you have to be willing to hear the story, understand it in an objective way but also with the point of view of the person who is telling it, and finally be able to interact taking the story you just heard into account and express your opinion. But maybe because of the environment we are at in the moment of the conversation or solely because we don’t think it is a big deal, we can start interrupting the other person with the purpose of changing the subject or just ignoring them and not being able to be responsive enough.

What happens is that the person will feel indeed ignored and like if his/her stories don’t matter. And again, that’s not probably the way we want them to feel, but we have come to get used to superficial and fast conversations that we don’t care about not going deeper with them. And it is safe to say that we can’t feel attracted to every topic or situation, but if someone is being open enough and being trustful enough to tell us something (as superficial as it could be) we must be wiling to hear and make them feel important just like we want to be heard. And if we can’t stand certain things, there are better ways to let that person know that you dislike those kind of things, because believe me it is better to actually say it than pretending to make them understand in an indirect way (through ignoring them or making rude expressions) that you are not interested.

I have always considered myself to be a good listener and make the other person feel like I care, because I do (little or much, it doesn’t matter); but since I started paying attention to this issue, I have tried to do a way better job. With it comes the other side of the story though, and it is facing people who interrupt me or seem to ignore me; and although it is annoying, I have come to understand that in many cases it’s not because what I am saying is boring or uninteresting, it’s just that people want to move on fast or can’t be thoughtful enough to pay attention. Either way, it won’t stop me from paying genuine attention to them and trying to maintain a fluidity in conversations while being open to new things.

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