A person’s mind-drift experience can happen to almost anyone. Minddrifting (or mental wandering, wandering mind, daydreaming, la-la land, etc.) is a cognitive phenomenon in the brain wherein one’s attention becomes distracted from the task at hand and strays into unrelated thoughts. Busy service professionals engaged in multitasking activities will experience numerous daily mind-drift moments.
The average person experiences mind-drift about 30 percent of their waking day. Much of this includes the typical daydreaming that might occur while driving a vehicle or taking a walk through a park. Mind-drift becomes a problem when it interferes with a service professional’s listening skills. Five or 10 seconds of mind-drift, while a customer is speaking, can result in a loss of valuable information for a service professional. The best remedy is a fearless and courageous question, such as; “I’d like to clarify that symptom, may I hear that last sentence again?” A person who lacks the courage to clarify will lose valuable information.
When people think about listening, they assume it is similar to hearing. This is a precarious misconception because it leads people to believe listening is passive. Hearing a message is a passive exercise; but listening to a message requires mental energy, and this makes listening skills more active. To fully understand a spoken message, a listener must hear, qualify, and understand what is being spoken.