Usability - Productivity - Business - The web - Singapore & Twins

Pay (with) Attention!

Interaction with each other comes at a price. The currency we settle the cost of that interaction is attention. The saying is " Pay attention", not "lend" or "give" or "show" attention. Seeing attention as a currency it starts to explain a lot of pattern in interaction:
  • If you force my attention you are an extortionist. Nobody likes to get blackmailed. So if you "steal" my currency I try to give as little as possible, if not nothing. I also will try to take back what was extorted. A vicious cycle begins
  • If I find something worthwhile, I don't mind paying. I see that as a good investment. This is why we feel good paying attention to people who are interesting, engaging and inspiring
  • If I'm paid a lot of attention I feel (emotionally) well heeled. Just imagine 10000 people paying full attention to you. This gets addictive. This is why musicians and actors never will stop, it simply feels too good. This is also a reason why lovers feel so good: they pay full attention to each other escalating the good feeling
  • If we interact and you don't pay full attention I will feel short changed. So I might start to reciprocate and hold back myself
  • If I hedge my bets and spread my attention investment (a.k.a. permanent partial attention) I might avoid total loss, but for sure I also won't get the full story, because I'm never fully here or there (How many meetings suffer from that)
  • If I want to influence someone and get a certain result I will make a deposit or pay forward with my attention.
Partial and forced attention are an epidemic. I think it is worth to fight this disease. The best remedy is to pay forward attention: whenever you interact with someone, pay full attention regardless of your expectation in return. One secret of attention: if you pay it because you want, it will replenish you with energy. If it is extorted is will drain all participant. Want to try in your next meeting: buy a palm size bean bag. Whoever holds the bag gets full attention in a meeting (no email/im/sms please) and can speak. The bag is handed over once (s)he is finished. In energy starved environments you might want to limit the time how long one person can hold on to the bag and/or have rules how to pass on the bag (e.g. in circles).

Posted by on 05 July 2007 | Comments (0) | categories: After hours


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