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Holding Someone’s Interest Versus Getting Their Attention

Leading a team requires the ability to guide and inspire interest from your people.

Interest is significantly different from attention. Loud noises get our attention, but they may not hold our interest. Here’s an example. You are sitting having a nice cup of coffee at your local green branded coffee stop. You hear a loud bang right outside. You jump to go see what just happened. That noise has grabbed your attention.

7903217 - Courtesy 123rf.com
Courtesy 123rf.com

You realize the barista has dropped a metal trashcan outside, right by the curb. That’s not very interesting, so you go back to your coffee. Your interest returns to the article, book or screen you were browsing when the bang happened. Now, both your attention AND your interest are focused on the prior content you were viewing.

Only Two Things

Lots of things get our attention daily. However, it has been said there are really only two things that hold our interest.

  1. A Problem we have and don’t want

  2. A Result we want but don’t have

When applying these principles to managing and leading others, you can see how difficult it may be to identify the underlying meaning of a message so that you actually trigger someone’s interest as opposed to merely grabbing their attention.

Announcements about a policy change at work can be dry and boring right? You get the team’s attention by saying “I have a announcement. We need to talk about a new policy change….” Eyes glass over right?

The better approach would be to attempt to identify whether the change you want to announce solves a problem or creates a result. Being able to align with either of these two key values helps to pique the interest and drive change.

Think of Your Own Experience

How many times have you been given instruction or guidance that does more to interrupt your attention rather than engage your interest? Think about those moments. Determine whether the message could have been delivered in a more concrete way so that your own interest was peaked.

The world around us is cluttered with voices trying to distract us and rob our attention. Most is just noise, like the clanging trashcan. Rare is the message that gets our full interest. Yes, clearly attention can grow into interest.

Couples coming together for the first time create an element of attention getting moments. String together enough of those moments and interest begins to grow. Rather than a passing glance, now there are long stares. Once the interest is achieved, a meaningful relationship can grow.

As a leader, you must decide whether your next move is just more noise and friction or a meaningful topic worthy of gaining someone’s deep interest.

When your team is fully interested in what is going on, then great things can happen.

[reminder]Share some ways you build interest at work.[/reminder]

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