Giving Full Physical Attention To The Speaker

Attending is the art and skill of giving full, physical attention to another person. In his book, People Skills, Robert Bolton, Ph.D., refers to it as “listening with the whole body”.

Effective attending is a careful balance of alertness and relaxation that includes appropriate body movement, eye contact, and “posture of involvement”. Fully attending says to the speaker, “What you are saying is very important. I am totally present and intent on understanding you”. We create a posture of involvement by:

      Leaning gently towards the speaker;

Facing the other person squarely;

Maintaining an open posture with arms and legs uncrossed;

Maintaining an appropriate distance between us and the speaker;

Moving our bodies in response to the speaker, i.e., appropriate head nodding, facial expressions

“To listen is to move. To listen is to be moved by the talker – physically and psychologically . . . The non-moving, unblinking person can reliably be estimated to be a non-listener . . . When other visible moving has ceased and the eyeblink rate has fallen to less than once in six seconds, listening, for practical purposes, has stopped.”