Attention, says Chris Hayes, the moderator of MSNBC’s “All In” program, is the scarcest commodity of the 21st century.
True. In her book “Reclaiming Conversation,” Sherry Turkle writes eloquently about the differences betweendeep attention and hyper attention. Hyper attention is a fractured attention in which we rapidly zip from one point of focus to the next. You and I know. Googling. Tweeting. Facebooking. Instagramming. Ceaseless distraction. Activities like skimming and scanning are often associated with fractured attention. Popular claims notwithstanding, hyper attention equals diminished retention.
Maryanne Wolf, a cognitive neuroscientist at Tufts University, thought she was immune to the perils of fractured attention. Sure, she saw evidence of fractured attention in most of her students – but that was other people! Until Wolf sat down one evening to read a novel by Hermann Hesse, one of her favorite authors, and found it difficult to focus on the book. Alarm bells rang.
Like it or not, every one of us is impacted by the onslaught of a hyper-attention culture. In every business situation, we engage with folks who have diminished attention spans. The time-tested essentials of influential communication become exponentially important in our attention-deficit-world.
Let’s remind ourselves of these business essentials.
Here’s the good news about fractured attention. The techniques just listed will help you harness the attention of your audience. Better yet: After her alarm bells rang, Maryanne Wolf was determined to reclaim her facility for deep attention. Wolf discovered that after 2 weeks of determined focus on the Hesse novel, her ability to immerse herself in deep reading returned. Whew.
Pay attention to attention. Theirs and yours. There is no personal success without it.