When is the last time you were in a conversation and felt someone was genuinely, deeply listening and trying to understand you? When is the last time you genuinely, deeply listened to someone? Not just going through the motions, nodding at key moments while actually just waiting your turn to speak. Not listening just enough to give the impression you care while you’re really composing your next thought to share when an acceptable pause gives you your chance to talk.

The gift of attention is as priceless a gift as you can offer or receive, especially in this age of distraction where so many stimuli are tugging at us, beeping, vibrating, pinging away at our limited supply of attention.

What if you put away your devices, ignored alerts, and zeroed in on the person in front of you? It’s not easy. Make it a practice to really listen, without judgment, without formulating your response. Just try to understand. You don’t have to be particularly wise or have great answers of your own. Paying attention is more powerful and more generous than offering advice, wit, or wisdom. It’s a skill anyone can cultivate, but so few do that it seems to be a rare, special power, a superpower even.

No cape required. No advanced degrees. No years of toil. Just listen and be present and be a hero for someone in need of genuine, old fashioned human connection.

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