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No Distractions and Attention

 

Explanations > Perception > Attention > No Distractions

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

When we are attending to something there are many things that can happen to distract our attention away from the subject in hand. If we can remove distractions then this should help increase attention.

Distractions can include:

  • Other people talking to one another
  • Other people speaking to us
  • Sudden flashes of light
  • Loud sounds
  • Things moving across our field of vision
  • Things or people approaching us
  • Other items nearby in which we may be interested

If there are no distractions, then there is little alternative than to attend to what is presented to you.

Example

A teacher removes things on the wall, especially at the front of the classroom.

A sales person takes a customer to a quiet area to make the final push for the sale.

A business manager ensures there is only one key point on each slide in their presentation.

Discussion

Our minds are complex instruments that require constant stimulation, and distractions easily pull us off in different directions, even in the middle of speaking or listening. We also constantly scan the environment for threats and opportunities and it can be difficult to turn this off when there are many things stimulating our visual or auditory senses.

When we are listening to others, we only use a small part of our mind to understand the words. We read at around 300 words per minute yet speak at about half this rate. This gives a listener plenty of time to be distracted by whatever else is happening around or even inner thoughts.

So what?

If you want people to attend to you, then remove as many distractions as you can. This can range from physical objects to words that you use. Things you can do include:

  • Prepare the environment where you will speak, removing distractions.
  • Turn off TVs, radios, computers and other electronic distractions.
  • Ask them to put away their phones, books or other things they may use.
  • Put your back to a blank wall.
  • Use fewer words to explain things.
  • Speak clearly, with simpler, less ambiguous words.
  • Take them away from the other people, so it is just you and them.
  • Take them to a quiet room.
  • Take them for a walk, or go for a coffee, away from work distractions.

See also

Attention principle

 

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