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Give People Your Undivided Attention


Everyone wants to be the most important person in the room.  It makes us feel special, worthy, bigger than we actually are.  Now, we can’t make everyone the most important person in the room, but we can make them feel that way when they are with us.  And it’s really very easy.  You simply smile, listen attentively, and give them your undivided attention. 

By giving people your undivided attention, you are telling them they are the most important thing in your world right now.  Although this is not a difficult thing to do, we rarely do it.  Sure, it’s easier to pay better attention to people when we are at parties, outings, or other social events.  This is because no one wants to be that guy or gal, who hides in a corner who can’t wait to leave.  But think about the times with your spouse or kids.  How many times are you talking with them and their head is buried into their phones, or yours in your phone?  It has become the norm.  There are all kinds of examples.

A Common Example

Think about the last time you went to the doctor’s office.  You already feel kinda crappy and just want to get done and get home.  You walk up to the receptionist who is busy on her computer.  Without even looking at you, she barks, “Sign in.  Have there been any changes to your insurance?”  If you are like me, you would agree her response is not adding value to your day.  I understand they are busy and there are occasions where a personal touch just doesn’t fit in the schedule.  But it happens oh too many times.  A little eye contact and a smile could really make me feel a bit better.

My McDonald’s Experience

When I was about 22 years old, I had an experience at McDonald’s that sticks with me to this day.  I have worked many customer service jobs, including working at McDonald’s as a teenager.  I was sitting down, just finishing my food when I decided I wanted a sundae.  I walked around the corner to go order when I noticed the cashier on the customer side of the counter, slumped over it like it was the only thing holding her up.  As I walked around, she looked up at me, and with all her energy, picked herself up and walked back behind the counter to the cash register.  This wasn’t a quick walk either.  She appeared exhausted, taking her time, looking all around, finally getting to the cash register about 30 seconds later.

When she took my order, she barely even looked at me.  I felt like a bother.  Now, I don’t know what she had experienced that day, nor do I know any problems or challenges she had in her life.  I am not here to pick on her.  I am only using her as an example.  She failed to give me her undivided attention.  She seemed bothered by me and definitely did not make me feel like the most important person in the world.  That memory has stuck with me to this day.

Let The Memory Go Already!!!

My McDonald’s experience was over 20 years ago.  I am not angry about it, nor bring it up much, unless it’s appropriate.  How come this memory sticks with me?  I believe Maya Angelou said it best, 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

That day at McDonald’s, I felt like a bother.  I mean…I really felt like a bother.  Back then I didn’t understand that the way she acted said more about her than about me.  For this reason, it made me feel like a nuisance and it doesn’t feel good.  I remember the way she made me feel and it has stuck with me to this day.  It reminds me to always give my best and do my best for others.  Don’t let anyone feel like they are bothering you.  It’s not a good feeling.

Final Thoughts:

It can be hard to give people our undivided attention, but we can make our best effort to do so.  It will improve relationships with your family, your friends, and anyone you encounter.  The only cost is your time.  So take the time and invest it in people, especially in your most important relationships.  Reap the benefits of this small investment that can change how all your relationships work and bring you and everyone involved more joy.  If you want people to treat you like the most important person, treat them like the most important person!!!

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