Paying Attention and Other Relationship Super Powers

I’m busy today, are you busy today? Sometimes it just seems as though life presents me with a a sheer vertical wall of responsibilities. During those times, my intention is to buckle down, develop a laser-like focus and knock it all out with style. But you know what actually seems to happen? I get totally overwhelmed with deciding where to start and instead play Candy Crush for seven hours. Seriously, let the irony of that sink in for a bit. The more I have to do, the absolute less I actually set about accomplishing. Sigh.

I am convinced that the endemic busyness of modern life is one of the direct reasons we are all on our phones and computers rather than connecting to others in real-time. I may not be able to get all my paperwork done, but I can engage in the rather parallel busyness of leveling up at my video game or liking all my friends’ Facebook pictures. We are so buried under feelings that we should be accomplishing something, we choose things to do at which we can get a win…even if they’re not the things we “should” be focusing on at the moment.

I think that’s just sad. Super, super sad.

This is affecting our relationships in the worst way it possibly could–by starving them of the moment-by-moment unadulterated attention they deserve. If you are present in body only your spouse will feel it. Sometimes, we are asked to multitask, and to put up with multitasking in our conversational partners so much that we accept it as the norm. And that, my friends is a crying shame. It’s the fast food version of care taking for one another rather than a nutritionally dense infusion of love and connection. Sure, McDonald’s will keep you alive. But you’ll feel gross.

Lately I have been asking my clients to take note of how they tune into one another when they are talking. I’m stubborn as a mule, so we’re really sticking on this topic for a good long while. Are you paying adequate attention to your partner in conversation? Here’s how you’ll know:

1)  There is strong eye contact.

2) You’re asking questions that directly relate to the conversation at hand and that keep information circulating. This is true especially if you think you know what your partner should do. Sometimes, people just want to talk. They aren’t ready for you to solve it yet. They will take your attempt to solve it as evidence that you are sick of listening to them. Don’t be that guy/gal that can’t just sit and listen.

3) You are listening not just for what the other person is saying but also what they mean. If    you’re not sure what he or she means you’re asking.

4) You are asking how you can help/know more/help move the body if that’s necessary. Just  kidding. Mostly.

Do you need some help learning how to attend to your partner’s needs in conversation? Are you ready to develop your communication X-man skills? Why don’t you come on in so that we can talk about it.

Your Partner in Healing,


Are you looking for individual, couples or group therapy in Raleigh? Call me today to schedule a consultation to learn how counseling can help you. Please contact me at (919) 714-7455 or email me at Visit me on the web at or:

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