Don’t ignore the power of distractions. I’m not referring to the things that distract you, but the things you do that distract your listeners. Don’t just shrug and say, “that’s just me.” It’s not. If you know about a distraction and don’t do something about it, then really you are saying, “that’s just me being too lazy or proud to address the issue.” If you don’t know about your distracting mannerisms and habits, perhaps it’s time to ask someone who will be honest with you? What might they point out?
Distracting Gestures – These tend to be the first thing people will mention because their power to distract is so great. Basically any gesture you use too frequently will distract. Especially any gesture you use rhythmically.
Distracting Gaze – It is distracting to listen to a speaker who won’t look at you, but instead seems to be looking over your head, or at some apparition only he can see on the wall over by the clock. Eye contact matters to people, whether they know it or not.
Distracting Words or Non-Words – Hmmm, you know, like, I mean, just really, uhhhh, and what not. Non-words, filler words, mispronounced words and repeatedly tacked on words are all distractions. Find out what you use and graciously assassinate it.
Distracting Attire – Do most people really appreciate that loud shirt you were given on the ministry trip to wherever-land, or only the one or two ebullient people who react with joy to anything that breaks the monotony of normal life? Equally, do the right clothes fit wrong, or the patterns create hallucinations for people watching your image projected on the screen (most of us don’t have this problem).
Your goal in communicating is to communicate. It makes no sense to tolerate distractions. Funnily enough, distracted listeners are, well, distracted. Find out if you are causing distraction in any way, the don’t disregard what you discover.
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