nobody pays attention

“Do you remember that document I sent you and briefed you about?” … “No, I didn’t think so.”


It seems that few people have time to pay attention to anything that cannot be put into a known holding bin in their mind. If it’s new, complicated, or complex, there is no time to make sense of it in our hurried professional lives. In a world of general attention deficit disorder, understanding that nobody has understood what you have produced is a critical foundation for communication, especially in business. Assume that nobody has read what you have written. For those rare exceptions, assume they have interpreted it in a manner other than intended. So what can you do?

First of all, you need clarity of mind. Anything you believe is important to communicate has to be revised, tested, and edited many times. On this blog I have taken many half-baked ideas and worked at simplifying convoluted concepts over several years. But readers will take one point and run with it, taking it where they wish. I am not in control. They are. All I can hope is to engage them. Over time I may even be able to convince them of a new idea.

If you need to convince others to hire you, engage you, buy your product, or anything else, then your quiver needs many arrows. Even if one hits the target, it does not mean it will stick. These people are not those who have read your blogs posts, articles, or books. But they have probably put you into a category already. Your job is make it clear why your point of view is important to them. It’s best to assume everyone has a lack of time and a different frame of reference. It won’t make you more successful, but perhaps less frustrated. You should over-prepare, practice all the time, and pay attention to signals. It is not about you.

I’m working on being less frustrated 😉

8 Responses to “nobody pays attention”

  1. Harold Jarche

    By the way, I am not venting any major frustrations here, just observing that no matter how much or how well I explain something, most people are not listening. For me, it means I have to keep saying the same thing, but in different ways.

  2. Hugh Aitken

    Rest assured Harold. I have spent a great deal of time reading and rereading your work for the prime reason that you bring clarity to complex issues. I always look forward to finding your latest update in my mailbox. Thank you .

  3. Machiel van Gogh

    Agree with Hugh. Your blog is one of the few that I read consistently and (as ) mindful (as possible).

  4. Vishnu

    Harold, I don’t know where you weren’t very clear. For me most of your ideas and your way of illustration has produced more haha moments than any other blogs I have read. Reading your articles make me more serene and helps me makes sense of the complexity around and ways to cope with it.

  5. Vishnu

    Harold, as you have rightly pointed out its about their frame of reference and about them than what you have to offer. Had I read your blog an year earlier when I had an entirely difference frame of reference ie rather defensive about the current age of information swamp and my helplessness about it, I wouldn’t have understood what you are offering. Nonetheless, having hit the wall and come to terms to live with deluge, I realize the importance all the ideas and tools you espouse so elegantly to stay atop in this inevitable deluge.

  6. Sheona

    Harold, this is such a timely reflection for me to read, and good therapy for a frustrated Friday afternoon. Thank you.


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