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Are you like me? I remonstrate at the TV screen when I’m watching a Hollywood movie in which two people are talking in a car for long periods and the driver only pays scant attention to where he’s/she’s going.

OK it’s a movie and they’re not on a road; they’re in a film set with fake traffic motion going on around them.

Or maybe you’re waiting in line at the supermarket check out counter. The customer ahead of you pays and leaves; you move forward for your turn and the check out staff starts to scan the items from your trolley.

The conversation goes something like this…..

Check out: Hi, how are you?

You: Good, and you?

Clerk: Good.

That’s about where the conversation runs out of steam.

How often do you rely on your auto-pilot script to get you through the motions of your day?

You’re not really thinking about the words coming out of your mouth because that’s all they do….they just come out of your mouth. 

Paying Attention
Paying Attention

Did you notice the colour of the checkout staff’s eyes?  Any distinctive earrings, rings, tattoos, scars, necklaces or did you just watch them scan the bar codes?

How often do you drive home without noticing anything enroute? A dog in your road you haven’t seen before; trees beginning to flower, new road signs or markings, graffiti on a wall, a new billboard ad or a freshly painted gate.

I believe that most people have somewhere between 60,000 – 70,000 thoughts each day.

It may seem a lot but many of those thoughts will be the same thoughts as they had yesterday, and the day before and the day before that.

When I learned this, it made me stop to think how much of my day was on auto-pilot.

From that point on I started to take in more of what was happening around me.

A valuable lesson I’ve learned is that everyone can be interesting when you ask the right questions. If you’re not getting the right response, you need to start asking different questions.

Who are the best listeners?  CIA agents (spies in general), detectives, focus group moderators, bartenders, radio producers and top furniture and car salesmen.

We all enjoy sensory capabilities through sight, sound and touch but as individuals if we’re more switched onto sight than sound we’ll speak in phrases that contain visual words: “I see what you mean” or :”That’s clear to me now”.

Were it the other way around, preferring sound we’d be saying “That rings a bell” or “I hear you loud and clear“.

Touch comes into it as well – “I’d like to get to grips with that” or “He put forward a very solid argument in his talk”.

If you’re unused to paying attention it could be difficult to start, but the exercise will be worth it and the transformation can make all the difference to your life.

Graeme Dinnen

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