You can categorize attention levels into 3 categories: Self, Other, and Surroundings. At the first level, Self, a person is very much focused internally. Focus is centered on what is going on with me; how do I look, think, feel; what type of judgements or comparisons are being made; how do I present myself so that I look good or do things correctly; and what I should say next. So with this internal focus, what type of impact does this person have at the time of interaction? At a very basic level he/she does not hear what is being said. In addition, the person is very aware of self and knows how she thinks and feels while missing out on what is happening in the moment. The individual is not present to what is next and literally does not know where to go.
The second level of attention is Other, an external focus. This individual has attention centered on what the communicator is saying and what that person is experiencing. Have you ever sat down to speak with someone and noticed he/she looks nervous, or is sweating, or who has a wardrobe malfunction? With this type of focus, the individual does not really hear what is being said, what these topics mean to the speaker nor does she pick up on the emotion that the communicator has around the topic. So what does this look like to the speaker? The impact created allows the speaker to feel that she has been heard and seen and even understood and there is a connection made between the two parties. As the listener you can repeat what has been said and you do have a sense of what it is like to be in the communicator’s shoes. And finally, as the listener you have forgotten yourself.