The tone of voice changes: The “uh-uh”s and “yes”s are still there, but they have a hollow sound to them. The nods of the head are automatic. The gaze is no longer intent.
I keep talking a little longer and finish a sentence or two to be polite, but I know the words aren’t going anywhere. I know he’s thinking about something else.
I’ve lost the man’s attention. Actually, he gives off rather clear signals that I have. If he realized just how clearly, he probably would do something about it. But he’s not that conscious of his non-verbal communication.
Of course, the thing is what should I do, or what should you do if you find yourself in this position, where the person you’re speaking with isn’t focused on what you’re saying any more?
Well, I think there’s only one answer…
Get the other guy talking. That’s what he wants to do. Anything else is pointless. Your stuff will have to wait (though maybe you’ll be able to get the other person to say what needs to be said by asking smart questions).
Bottom line: If you’ve lost their attention, give them the ball.
What about you?
What do you do when you realize someone has zoned out of what you’re saying?
How aware are you of the signals you may be giving off that you’re not actually paying attention?
More detail on how much happens unconsciously in our relationships, and some smart questions to ask, in my book, available here http://amzn.to/ouLZgs (US) or http://amzn.to/vAaZMl (UK).
Or ask me to speak at your event or guest on your program.