A Gallup survey reveals that an employee’s level of engagement drops significantly if the leader focuses on the employee’s weaknesses rather than their strengths. But the more surprising finding was the dramatic doubling of disengagement when an employee is ignored. Engagement, the extent to which an employee feels connected to their leader and their workplace, is almost impossible to achieve in the face of neglect.
It appears in all aspects of life that any attention is better than no attention. Children are expert at ramping up their “attention-seeking behaviours” when they sense you are drifting. It starts with chatter, then questions, then repetition, then silliness, and finally, if nothing else works, naughtiness. That usually gets a response, and even harsh words or punishment are a price they’re prepared to pay to satisfy the need. You’ve finally bestowed upon them the much sought prize and a connection is made. This connection is crucial for learning, understanding, encouragement, motivation, and the security of belonging. Even if the experience that flows through the open stream of attention is negative, it’s better than receiving nothing at all.
In fact anyone who has been on the receiving end in any relationship (intimate, work or the service provider on the other end of the phone), will know the feeling that results from withheld attention. You are not important. What you have to say is not important. This can only produce destructive results.
The stream of attention is a tangible pathway along which we walk towards each other, and it must be open for connection to be possible. Is your attention switched on to the needs of the people around you, or do you withhold your attention?
Attention can be withheld intentionally or unintentionally. See if you can identify the times when you unintentionally withhold attention from those around you. You may be lost in thought or captured by busyness. When your attention becomes cluttered and fragmented, you will not see the needs of those around you, and you will not notice the impact of your neglect.