What does that term connote to you? A physical posture? An assertive personal attribute? Body language? Or, possibly you have never thought about the term.
For me, it is an attribute that is indicative of a person’s interest and attentiveness. When I am speaking to or facilitating a group, I always look for those who are leaning forward in their seat. Other attributes that frequently define these type people are eye contact, questions, listening, and intentional activities/actions.
What about eye contact? Some people do not feel comfortable making eye contact based on their introverted personality. Nothing wrong with that. It is a defining characteristic to which we need to accept and adapt ourselves. Also, some international cultures do not make eye contact. I respect that as well and adapt accordingly. One thing I know about eye contact, when a person is looking at me intently, he/she is absorbing what I am saying. They may not agree. However, they are at least hearing and processing everything I am saying.
How easily distracted is a person to lose eye contact? How about when a telephone rings, a noise is heard, and/or a visual distraction occurs? I try to never lose eye contact with the person with whom I am conversing. Why? For the time we are conversing, that person is the most important subject of the moment. To lose eye contact for an extended period of time without a valid explanation that might define an emergency could be interpreted that I do not value that person as much as I value the distraction. When I take a drink of water, I always want to maintain eye contact. I will know where the glass is before I start the conversation so I can maintain eye contact throughout the conversation even while drinking the water. Being focused on the person of conversation is essential.
Listening. Have you ever been a part of a conversation where the person frequently interrupts you even before you complete a sentence? These type people frequently care more about what they think than what the personal speaking thinks. If you have been party to this behavior, you know what a turn off it is. Eye contact helps focus our listening. I try to listen intently to every word spoken so I am able to advance everything that is said. I have learned that many people talk without communicating, while some people communicate without ever connecting. Listening intentionally helps me connect with the person with whom I am having a dialogue. Even though I may not agree with what the person is saying, I at least want to know what the person thinks and why they think the way they do. Listening and responding to what they say is a way to connect and advance the conversation to a useful conclusion.
Questions. I would never ask a question during class time in middle or high school. Why? My low self-image and low self-esteem made me think I was merely identifying how stupid I am by asking a question. I always thought that others would think I should know the answer to my “dumb” question. However, I have learned through life experience, that some number of people gain through observational learning from questions and answers. I am now making up for lost time with questions as my self-image has improved to the point of being incurably inquisitive. I have learned through my personal growth that people who are intentional about learning frequently lean forward either while sitting or standing. It is a very positive body language. We have heard it said that the only stupid question is the one not asked. Similarly, I have also learned that the questions I formulate are frequently the ones others either were too shy to ask and/or the person was not inquisitive enough to know to ask. In either instance, learning is achieved.
Speaking of learning, life has taught me that everyone has a learning style. Your style might be auditory, visual, kinesthetic, or read-write. I was possibly in my mid-20s before I learned about learning styles and what mine is for various subjects. I am largely visual. However, my learning style changes with the subject at hand. Accordingly, I have learned that those who communicate well adapt to a person’s learning style by knowing what cues to look for. We then must be willing to adapt to various learning styles to advance a person’s learning. While discerning a person’s learning style might seem complicated, it is not. I will save that for another topic. Anyone who is passionate about this can learn very easily.
Being intentional. As we know our strengths, skills, talents, and passion, we can identify what make us “tick.” Some people express this as “it is the way I am wired.” Each of us has strengths. It is incumbent on each of us to identify those strengths so we can be intentional to use those strengths to fulfill our passion while connecting with others. If we are not intentional, we are likely to go hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and month-to-month doing whatever satisfies us for the moment. This can lead to activity with productivity. How many times have we completed the day exhausted while wondering what we accomplished that will have lasting value? That frequently happens when we are not intentional.
Let me know what you are thinking right now. What thoughts have I stimulated? What thoughts do you have? Let’s continue and advance the dialogue by responding to this. In the meantime, have a passionate and intentional day.
Originally published on October 26, 2018 by SpeakerMatch Speakers Bureau