I sat through a meeting this morning where all but two attendees brought laptops. I brought my iPhone and one person brought a pad of paper.
Although the meeting didn’t require my participation, I tried to keep my phone overturned on the table.
I put my hands on the table and looked around the room as I listened to fingers tap-dancing on keyboards. No one was paying attention to the information being projected to the screen. Ten people were present in body only.
I felt strange. Like I’d stumbled into a meeting where I hadn’t been invited.
But I’ve had some to think about that meeting. And I wonder if I exhibit the same behavior around my children at times?
When I’m reading a magazine at the table, how much attention am I able to give to my children? Not much.
Or when I’m at my computer with headphones draped over my head. Or when I give them a ride to school with the radio blasting classic rock? Maybe Lincoln wanted to tell me a story. Maybe Luca would like to play a game. But I wouldn’t know because I was jamming Dark Side of the Moon.
Can you give someone anything more valuable than your attention?
Whatever the cause, attention has become a rare commodity. It sounds simple yet it’s rare when I have someone’s full attention. I’m almost shocked when I have it anymore.
That’s one of many reasons I will miss visiting with my grandmother who passed away a few weeks ago. She gave me her full attention. It didn’t matter if I was describing a book I was reading or sharing the news that Kim and I were expecting a baby. She would slide close to me, take my hand and look me in the eye. And then she would listen. She wouldn’t interrupt. She was fully engaged in our discussion.
She had a way of making me feel like I was the most important person in her life. What an amazing trait to possess!
I’m making small changes such as not carrying my phone in my pocket around the house. Not blasting music in the car when my kids are in the backseat. And keeping my magazines away from the dinner table.
I’ve got a long ways to go before I’m in same league as my grandmother. But if she were around today, I’m certain she’d be thrilled it’s something I’m working to improve.