I have had big challenges in keeping my concentration on any one specific thing at a time. There are distractions all around, and it is not unusual to get distracted constantly irrespective of the “weightiness” of the subject matter on hand.
I have observed that this is a common phenomenon with many folks. The world is full of distractions and further, it is difficult to concentrate when a long-winded speaker is involved. I have also had a challenge of tackling questions which form in my mind based on what I just heard on a particular topic – which means that my mind is more focused at any time on the kind of questions I should be asking and trying to keep those questions in my memory, rather than follow the line of thinking of the speaker. In this manner, it is easy to miss salient points of the speaker, instead focusing on a particular area of the speech on which you have some questions.
I cannot describe this better – but I find it strange when my mind constantly keeps working on formulating questions while I keep missing what could be critical points in a discussion. It could be a good thing as my mind is surely working on a set of queries which could prove to be important to any discussion or the subject matter on hand being analyzed. However, recently I found a way to get out of this imbroglio.
I have started keeping my eyes and mind on the gestures and intonation of the speaker, or speakers in a discussion. I apply the principle of correlation between various aspects of a speaker’s delivery – such as his/her facial features, his/her unique manner of speaking, his/her accent, his/her intonation, etc., Intense focus helps to concentrate the mind. It also helps the mind to sequence the speaker’s thoughts and form a chain of ideas, instead of jumping here and there, which results in mind diffusion.
While this is going on, I find that it is helpful to jot down one word on every question which still pops up in the mind, and avoid thinking further about it. Just capture the idea of the question and then move on. Continue the focus on the next idea of the speaker, or the next point coming up in the discussion. Keep a strong hold on the chain of thoughts and ideas.
I am finding that this is more productive for me. Earlier, I might have wanted to impress someone with my questions. That is no longer the driver. The key aspect of the engagement is to derive benefit from someone’s ideas and internalize the thoughts, while generating queries which could be posed for clarity.
It is also critical not to cloud one’s mind while engaging with others. Keep more or less a “blank” mind – do not be driven by past biases or judgements – keep the mind simple. The resulting productivity in engagements is astounding – better quality of interactions, better analysis, more insights and faster and better quality of decision-making, with satisfaction all around.
So, it is producing better results, and I thought it is pertinent to share this with my readers. I am still trying to distill the above experiences into something which could be communicated for better absorption. But you get the whole idea. Improve the mind’s concentration on the matter in hand; don’t get distracted; jot down the queries very briefly while keeping the mind focused on what is happening in the discussion.
You will become a much better listener and a more productive person overall !
7th March 2015