Note the Difference!

Difference makes for greater connection

What difference does it make to pay full attention (to use ‘seeking difference’ mode of paying attention)?


When we pay full attention to someone we know well using this mode we will notice differences, which may be minor or more substantial (change in hair style). Nuance is a good word to cover the small changes we note. We begin to have a more nuanced view of the other person.

Within our neural networks, these new things that we notice will be added in. Our unconscious brain then does what it is good at, it makes further connections and finds patterns.

Often when I am paying attention in this way, for example when I am coaching, I will note, within myself, a sudden insight or shift in my world view. This can be related to the person I am with, I have a deeper appreciation of them, or a more general shift in how I view the world.

Even if this shift doesn’t occur, my relationship with this person has deepened, my neural networks associated with this relationship are more complex, more extensive. I am, literally, more connected with this person.

Contrast this with using the ‘seeking the familiar’ mode of paying attention. You may be with someone who slightly irritates you and in this mode of paying attention you will recognise the same things that are familiar to you. You will notice little, if anything, that is new. The neural networks for this person are simply reinforced, not extended or new connections found. We are no more connected to this person than we were before seeing them this time. They will still irritate us next time.

Pay full attention and become more connected and increase your own awareness, pay partial attention and stay where you are.

What choice would you make?

John Corrigan