Friday, September 01, 2006

You Only Learn When You Truly Pay Attention

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Most everybody enjoys the opportunity to speak, to express views, to vent emotions, to persuade, to receive and revel in the attention of others. Speaking and being heard are validating experiences for most people. Whether it is a hostage demand, a suicide threat, an explanation, an apology, a comedy routine, a dramatic reading, a confession, or a monologue on a psychoanalyst's couch, every word is a plea for attention, understanding and appreciation. Generally speaking (with I, myself, possibly being the sole exception), great orators and statesmen are not attracted to those pastimes and occupations because they have an important message to convey -- no, more likely it is that it thrills them to hear the sound of their own solo voices against the backdrop of a cheering crowd of voters, worshippers, employees, or fans.Given a choice, most people would prefer to prattle on for hours instead of listening to someone else's ramblings and musings. It is very basic human nature.

If you add to the actual informational content of this speech certain special nuances, such as: accented words, recurring themes, intonation, facial expressions, eye movement and focus, body language, posturing (kinesthetics), posing, stammering, lengthy pauses, have a very powerful access to information if you truly pay attention. This means using all of your sense to accumulate and process important and predictive data. You cannot gather and analyze data while you are speaking, arguing (in the case of an angry rebuttal), or busily preparing your next spoken line. One of my favorite examples is quite typical: you go to a social gathering, the hostess brings you around and introduces you to several guests, and you do not remember the anme of a single person, let alone the slightest detail as to how he or she is related to your hostess, or what he or she may be interested in. You were so absorbed in thinking about your handshake, and what your opening line was going to be, that you completely tuned the other person's communication out. Had you paid attention, using all of your powerful physical, psychological and psychic senses, you might have walked away for these seemingly perfunctory encounters with some valuable information, instead of the traditional power-party after-the-fact questions, including, "What was her name? Who is she related to? What firm does she work for? What color were her eyes?" You wasted a valuable encounter by failing to pay attention.

People appreciate us more when we provide them with a rapt, dedicated audience. It makes them feel important, and they bask in our interest in them. The more that you are willing to attentively listen and observe, the greater the other individual will be drawn to you. If you occasionally ask a leading question to further affirm your apparent interest, you encourage more disclosure and openness. You also inspire friendship and initiate seduction. We (all of us) find it to be a very attractive attribute in others when they listen to us with seeming interest and intensity. We hunger for the release that expressing ourselves to an interested and admiring party (even a stranger) affords us. When we pay attention to others, we inspire their confidence, and develop a controlling bound.

Before imposing your agenda upon someone new, be an observer, an interviewer and a confidante. Then gently and subtely incorporate your new knowledge of the other person's genuine profile and agenda into crafting your own comments in response. Know your new acquaintance's psychological inclinations, desires and territory before you stake your tent.

Before you can devise and implement you optimal strategy, you must have as much information as possible. eople love to communicate -- they hunger for attention and recognition -- cultivate the ability to be a good listener, observer and interviewer, and set the odds of successful command in your favor. It is a show of great interest (and a flattering display) if you actually interrupt your interviewee with relevant questions from time to time to demonstrate that you are not only listening, but that you hunger for even more.

This process takes practice and patience, but it will win you great influence on the way to establishing your command.

Pay attention -- you are actually receiving many of the keys to unlocking the motivational psyche of the other person.


Douglas E. Castle

p.s. Quick Note: gather name, occupation, eye color, key likes and dislikes. If you listen and observe attentively enough (and perhaps enliven the conversation with some well-deserved and unique observations and compliments). Your first two roles in command are to 1) allow the other person to reveal himself/ herself and his/her attitudes and intentions to us, and 2), to allow the other person to become magnetized to us, and not to try to brand them forcefully with out ideas and conventions. This absolutely works.

Try the above for several weeks. Let me know what you see happening to those around you. You will invariably find yourself doing a great deal more listening, watching, nodding encouraging and developing far stronger intuitive impressions of others. When you are listening, you are gathering critical data. In order to gather more data when a particulat string of monologue runs dry, a Commander plays the subtle role of passive interviewer, asking specific questions (without revealing his/ her inherent bias or hidden agenda), to encourage further disclosure on the part of the interviewee. Take care not to criticize or oppose (either verbally or non-verbally) any of what you are hearing, as that will compromise the integrity of the process, and invite deceit on the interviewee's part. How many people do you know of who merely pretend to listen as a formality (sometimes they even look down or to the side, begin tapping their hands or feet, or engaging in other distracting behaviors to end the other person's turn at conversation), while they are busily preoccupied with preparing to make their own point, or to launch a rebuttal, if they have already decided that what they are hearing is either untrue or invalid. Do not be one of those fools.

Please feel free to contact me with your observations and ideas regarding this post, and on any related topics, at

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Douglas E. Castle

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