I recently heard a phrase that I’d never heard before: attention infidelity.

I’m familiar with both words, but I’ve never heard them used together.  Since hearing the phrase, I’ve not been able to get it out of my mind.

The term “infidelity” means “to be unfaithful” or “not loyal.”  Attention means “to direct our mind” or to “concentrate on” something.

With all of the technology available to us these days, we are constantly tempted to multi-task.  And multi-tasking, in general, isn’t always a bad idea.  We can watch TV while we iron.  We can do email while we’re listening to our favorite radio program online.

What I’ve come to understand is that multi-tasking an activity and a relationship is when the term “attention infidelity” applies.  When I try to do email and listen to my daughter tell a story, I’m being unfaithful to her.  When I’m cooking dinner and I don’t stop to greet my husband when he walks through the door, I’m being unfaithful to him.  When one of my adult children call and I’m in a middle of a project and I don’t step away to listen, I’m unfaithful to the conversation.

Have you every considered your faithfulness to those around you?  Are you guilty of “attention infidelity?”

I’m still a work in progress on this, but I do feel that I’m making some improvements.  I’ve learned to use three simple words to keep me accountable, faithful, and loyal to my loved ones.

STOP: I’m trying to stop what I’m doing to give the person the full focus.

LOOK: By turning away from the computer, the laundry, the dishes, or whatever I’m doing, I’m able to look in the eyes of the person I’m talking to.  If I need to give my full attention to someone on the phone, I try to change chairs or move away from the project I was working on.

LISTEN: I’m working to listen with my eyes and my ears.  Listening with my eyes speaks value to my friend or family member and listening with my ears allows me to hear what they say.

It seems that I mess up as often as I get it right, but I’m working to give my full attention to those around me.

How about you?  Are you guilty of attention infidelity?  Do you have any tips to help battle attention infidelity?

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