One of the greatest gifts we can give someone is our undivided attention. For people with OCD or ADD, or just people who are very busy, that may be difficult to do, as distractions almost inevitably occur when listening or following conversations.
In this very busy technological world, we are often overwhelmed with multi-tasking. I am often a victim of this. I will be reading something, or will be on the Internet, watching TV, cleaning, etc., and the phone rings and I try to keep up with 2 or more things at once, while having a conversation. The result of this is that all things usually suffer to some degree. Also, the person on the other end can usually pick up on my distraction. I have realized that this is very unfair. If I can’t give my undivided attention to someone, then I should tell them that I am busy at the moment and will contact them when I can concentrate.
Distractions, whether in the background or in the mind, sometimes makes listening difficult. The thing to do is to ignore all the surrounding chatter and try not to multi-task when listening on the phone, or even on the Internet. It is the same thing with thoughts that occur while talking face to face with someone. Sometimes we are so focused on our response that we don’t hear what the person is talking about. Make an effort to really absorb and listen to what the person is saying is saying. Focus on the words, live in the moment. Take yourself off auto-pilot.
I believe that giving the gift of undivided attention can reach people on a spiritual level, and that subconsciously, people know this. I hope that we all can put this into practice more often so that we can really connect as human beings.