Are You Paying Attention?

If you're like most people, you mess up career opportunities because you don't pay attention. You accidentally slight or insult others, without even knowing it. For example, if you're shy, colleagues may think you are aloof or cold. There is a selfish, personal aspect to likability. We tend not to like people who don’t like us. Call this petty or immature, but it’s true. Fixing this requires a bit of practice. You want to pay attention, but not overwhelm people. 1. Listen more than you talk. I have a few friends who can spend an hour in a room with me and never once ask a single question about my life, experiences or perceptions. 2. Ask questions that prove you are listening. To prove that you understand what someone is saying, ask questions that build on the points they are making. For example, if you and I were talking right now, you might say, “So by not paying attention, I'm making myself less likable, right?” Yep, that's it exactly. 3. Dig deeper. If you want to have 100 discussions about the weather each week, stick with superficial questions. Personally, this bores me to tears. I’d much rather ask questions that surprise you and make you think, such as, “Besides money, what stops you from quitting your job and taking a year to travel the world?”