Two ways to think about attention.
Most people have a perfectly normal, deep down desire to simply be noticed. We use social media to share special achievements. We might dress a certain way to get attention. We might share a special talent with the rest of the world and enjoy the applause we receive for our hard work. If a teacher praises us in class, that feels good and can even make our day. And all of that is fine…except when it’s not. Except when it goes too far.
There are two ways to get and enjoy attention: demanding it…and commanding it. What’s the difference?
Demanding attention always puts the focus on you first. The deep down goal is to put something out, only to have it return to you.
Commanding attention throws the focus off of you first. It might return to you, but only after it has positively impacted someone else. Or it might come naturally as a result of you living your life authentically.
Huh? Let’s make this simple and show some real-life examples:
Why do we notice flowers, rainbows, crystal blue water, or diamonds?
None of these things ask for our attention. They don’t do anything to get attention from us. They don’t let us know they are special or beautiful. These things are special and beautiful, so we notice them. They command attention.
- Share pictures or statements on social media with the primary goal of having others “like” them, feel envious, or to elevate themselves. Self-promotion.
- The demander’s inner quote: “Don’t I look amazing/fit/fly? Look at me.”
- Share pictures or statements to let friends know what is important to them, what they are currently doing with time or talents, or something that will make others feel good about themselves. Social media content makes others think, laugh, appreciate, smile, or learn. Self-expression.
- The commander’s inner quote: “I worked really hard to lose 20 pounds. Feeling great. This is me.”
- Often require people to prove their friendship or devotion, especially on social media. They are “just checking” to see who is really their friend. They’re “just seeing” who’s reading their posts and who is really going to step up and do something for them should they need it. They often test the people in their lives to see if they are still in the game.
- The demander says: “I’m just checking to see who is really here when I need them. Just seeing if anyone will step up and help me because I broke my leg.”
- Act like a friend even when other friends seem distant or silent. If they are in need, they simply ask for help but don’t require anything of anyone. If they want to hang out, they plan or invite, instead of saying, “I have 300 Instagram friends but no one to go to the movies with. No one ever asks me.” If no one is available to hang out, they use their time to help someone else.
- The commander says: “I broke my leg and can’t drive. Is anyone available to take me to the (doctor, game, school) this week?” Or, “I’m going to see the new Star Wars movie this weekend. Who’s in?”
- Dress, shop, or do makeup and hair with the primary goal of getting others to notice and comment. They might look out of place because they are overdressed. Maybe they’re dressed too “out there” or provocatively for the situation or event.
- The demander thinks: “I look incredible. I own the room.”
- Dress to make themselves feel wonderful. They have their own, unique personal style and know what looks best on them. They dress appropriately for the situation or event and exude quiet confidence.
- The commander thinks: “I feel great in this dress and shoes, and this is my favorite way to wear my hair.”
- Show off abilities, brag, or try to hog the spotlight.
- The demander thinks: “Just wait until the crowd sees me.”
- Always perform to the best of their ability, reflecting the hard work they’ve put in. Commanders honor the gifts and talents they’ve been given by living them out to the fullest and pushing themselves to grow.
- The commander thinks: “I worked six weeks on this piano piece. I hope the audience loves it and it makes them happy.”
- Require people to love them, or to be their friend through guilt.
- The demander thinks, “You need to do more to show you are my friend or that you love me. You need to prove yourself because I’m worth it.
- Become the person other people want to have in their lives.
- The commander thinks, “I’m going to be the best, most giving, authentic version of myself and if you respond to that then I’m happy to have you in my life. I’m going to act like a person of worth.”
Is any of this making sense or hitting home? If our points can be summed in one catch phrase it’s this:
Demanders act in order to get attention. Commanders receive attention because of the way they act.