Back to the Productivity Dictionary

a. The act of attending to someone or something, taking notice, turning your inward and outward senses toward in order to perceive and understand.

b. You can have different types of attention.

  • Cursory attention (fleeting)
  • Demanded attention (obligatory)
  • Chosen attention (free, undivided)

When the third type/level of attention becomes intent, full, it is focus.

c. There’s also the non-attention we give when we’re nodding and smiling but long gone in our minds. It can be a useful skill, but far too often we use this ability to pretend attention when it would be better not to.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m all in favor of a little bit of nodding & smiling to the guy selling candles from the mall kiosk, at least until you can sidle away… Or even for your kids on their 100th rendition of that one scene in their favorite movie.

d. Sometimes attention isn’t deserved or needed.

But it might be better – for you and for them – to simply say, out loud (not just in your head), “No, thank you,” or “Not now,” or “Later, please,” or “I’m not able to.”

For the people who matter to you, it’s better to give them your full attention now or ask them to wait until you can.

e. Half-given attention, obligated, demanded, non-attention… It doesn’t serve you or others very well.

What about the people who don’t matter to you?


They’re still people, so…

Maybe a little honesty, kindly but firmly, would be better. It would certainly show more respect to the inherent value of each individual (even if said individual is trying to sell you crap from a kiosk).