Here is a simple insight that is easy to remember and can improve all of your relationships. It won’t cost you any money and you can start today!
Personal relationships are successful when all parties feel that they are getting more out of them than they are putting in. Let’s look at business success. If a business can give people something they want at a price they can afford it will have enduring, prosperous relationships with its customers. Personal relationships are similar: we succeed in relationships when we reliably provide others with something they want. What do people want?
What people want is your undivided attention. It’s what children need; it’s what your partner desires; and it’s what everyone else wants too. Here’s a simple test: don’t you want to receive undivided attention from your own partner? Doesn’t your partner want to receive the same from you? When people are first in love they automatically give their complete attention to their loved one, without really thinking about it. That kind of attention is a powerful drug and it’s no wonder that we have withdrawal symptoms when we are no longer receiving it. Each partner must become aware of the need and make an effort to bring that attention back.
Attention in this sense is not just spending time with someone. Undivided attention means truly listening to the other person. It is not the same as ordinary conversation, or sharing an activity, or simply being together in the same room. There is nothing wrong with those things, but they are not in themselves undivided attention. Undivided attention requires switching off the “me” and truly focusing on the “you”. It means being truly “present”. What is this person really communicating on a deeper level? What is behind the masque of words, facial expression, tone, body language that he or she is projecting? What is the real need? Undivided attention is focused observation, especially attentive listening.
People want a particular quality of undivided attention. They want undivided attention that is supportive. It must be positive, empathetic, non-judgmental, nurturing, empowering. Undivided, supportive attention is the foundation for true intimacy. Giving someone undivided, supportive attention is truly giving that person love.
Children need undivided, supportive attention from the key adults in their lives so that they can develop confidence and self-assurance. If you reflect upon your own childhood you will see how receiving such attention, or not doing so, made a profound difference. Sadly, many children only ever receive undivided attention when it is of the negative variety, when they are being chastized, critiqued, or belittled. At the other end of the lifespan, when we think of the plight of the elderly in our society, isn’t the need for undivided, supportive attention a vital element there too? In today’s world there are so many lonely, lost, broken individuals who feel alienated because they go unheard. Sometimes it only takes one concerned person to prevent a tragedy.
Here’s a little acronym that is easy to remember:
USA. How hard is that?
How much do we really listen to another person without attempting to interpolate our own agenda? It takes practice to do it right. Prioritize the other person. Make a point of responding to him or her in an open, accepting and nonjudgmental manner. Try to shake off bad habits from the past.
Start deliberately. Find an opportunity give a loved one undivided, supportive attention for a period of time. Be with them attentively, without allowing yourself to get distracted by other things that are competing for your attention, and without prematurely injecting your own agenda or ideas. See how long you can keep it up. It becomes easier with practice.
Of course, this is not a panacea. Some people are not in a place where they can be reached, no matter how hard others might try, but giving them undivided, supportive attention will at least not make matters worse.
Remember: people want love and love is
undivided, supportive attention. Give it a try. Go USA!