What is Your Attention Level at Work?

Communication relies heavily on the level of attention given by all parties involved. Traci Louvier with Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems offers some advice for how to check in with yourself to insure healthy and effective interactions with co-workers.

By Traci Louvier

Nov 2018

two men working together on a project at work
Photo courtesy Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems

How often do you check in with yourself on the level of attention you have in a given conversation or interaction? If you are a manager, do you try to gauge the level of your team members? Attention levels are a critical factor in communication and healthy interactions. We all know what it feels like to engage in a conversation with someone who is tired, distracted by a deadline, or not feeling well. Those distractions are fairly easy to observe and at Tuthill we consciously acknowledge these obstacle and offer up an alternative time for discussion. The outcome is appreciated by both parties. But how good are you in detecting when the other person is distracted by concerns around how he/she looks, or how correct or accurate she may be, or planning on what should be said next?

two people distracted by cell phones at work
Photo courtesy Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems

Attention Levels

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.

“You have a strong, energetic sense of what is happening and your focus is on what is important. You are also aware of how your presence impacts the interaction.”

The final attention level is focused on Surroundings which can be immediate or extended. As a participant you take in all of your surroundings and your understanding is at a deep level. You have a strong, energetic sense of what is happening and your focus is on what is important. You are also aware of how your presence impacts the interaction. So what is the outcome of this third level? Within this interaction the next steps come to you naturally, and you trust the process that is being used within the encounter. This is a very healthy situation in which wisdom, outstanding possibilities, and powerful solutions come easily. Participants recognize what they did not know prior to the interaction and this helps foster a new level of intimacy and connection.  

people working on a project on a laptop
Photo courtesy Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems

How is Your Level 3?

It becomes apparent that gauging the current attention level within yourself, your department, and even across your company can help foster more productive conversations and support a healthy work environment. A high level of attention brings a team closer together and builds trust, rapport, and respect. This team flourishes with excitement of the great possibilities they can create together.


Traci Louvier has been a marketing communications professional for 20 plus years. Originally from St. Louis, Traci has balanced out her career with roles supporting sales of both consumer and industrial products along with working within corporate and agency settings. She relocated to the Springfield area in 2013 when she joined the team at Tuthill Vacuum & Blower Systems. Today, Traci manages Tuthill Corporation’s branding strategy to support product sales and promote internal programs that strengthen Tuthill’s culture and level of aliveness. She is located at the Burr Ridge, Illinois office.

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