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Atten­tive­ness means being aware of what is going on in your envi­ron­ment. It can be as sim­ple as notic­ing when some­one is get­ting bored, to sens­ing that now is not the right time to put your ideas across. It is know­ing when to act and when not to act.

Atten­tive­ness is also the abil­i­ty to tune into a prob­lem and come up with its essen­tial com­po­nents. “What is real­ly going wrong here?” That insight pro­vides the basis for envi­sion­ing some­thing that will tru­ly work bet­ter.

The fic­tion­al detec­tive, Sher­lock Holmes, who was cre­at­ed by Arthur Conan Doyle, had leg­endary pow­ers of atten­tion to detail. Sher­lock would notice a drop­ping of cig­a­rette ash on the car­pet, or a faint smudge of bil­liard chalk on a fin­ger, or rec­og­nize that a person’s accent did not go with his Mid­dle East­ern garb and he would have the clue he need­ed to solve the case.

Atten­tive­ness means you are open to out­side stim­uli enter­ing your field of per­cep­tion or, if the stim­uli are sub­tler, enter­ing your intu­ition. It means you are open to more infor­ma­tion com­ing in through your eyes and ears, through your sense of touch and through what is known as your kines­thet­ic sense. That means how your mus­cles and the organs of your body react. Our bod­ies can tell us loads about how oth­er peo­ple are feel­ing if we are atten­tive enough. Ear­li­er, we dis­cussed the trait of empa­thy, putting your­self in the oth­er person’s shoes. The abil­i­ty to be atten­tive to oth­ers allows you the access to the oth­er person’s feel­ings, and some­times those feel­ings are mir­rored in your own body — feel­ings such as fear, sad­ness and dis­com­fort.

There is an old para­ble about a very edu­cat­ed Eng­lish gen­tle­man vis­it­ing a well-known Bud­dhist mas­ter to see what he could learn from the spir­i­tu­al teacher. The holy man poured a cup of tea for the Eng­lish­man and kept pour­ing and pour­ing until there was tea all over the floor.

Final­ly, the Eng­lish­man could not sit silent­ly any longer and asked: “Why are you over­fill­ing the cup?” The Bud­dhist mas­ter replied, “This cup is like your head. It is so full that noth­ing else will go into it. You must emp­ty your­self first in order to learn any­thing new from me.”

The trait we are dis­cussing — atten­tive­ness — works a lot like that. In order to be atten­tive, we need to emp­ty our­selves of oth­er thoughts and set ways of see­ing things. When we use our sens­es to take in all we can about oth­er peo­ple, we can much more accu­rate­ly adjust our behav­ior to the needs of oth­ers. When we are atten­tive to sit­u­a­tions, we can exer­cise that pow­er of vision we spoke of ear­li­er to make pos­i­tive changes for oth­ers and our­selves.

Tony Alessandra
Dr. Tony Alessan­dra has a street-wise, college-smart per­spec­tive on busi­ness, hav­ing been raised in the hous­ing projects of NYC to even­tu­al­ly real­iz­ing suc­cess as a grad­u­ate pro­fes­sor of mar­ket­ing, inter­net entre­pre­neur, busi­ness author, and hall-of-fame keynote speak­er. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Con­necti­cut and his PhD in mar­ket­ing from Geor­gia State Uni­ver­si­ty (1976). Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video pro­grams. He was induct­ed into the NSA Speak­ers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010). Meet­ings & Con­ven­tions Mag­a­zine has called him “one of America’s most elec­tri­fy­ing speak­ers”. Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of Assess­ments 24×7. Assess­ments 24×7 is a glob­al leader of online DISC assess­ments, deliv­ered from easy-to-use online accounts pop­u­lar with busi­ness coach­es and For­tune 500 train­ers around the world.
Tony Alessandra

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