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By Peter Swanson / PayScale
October 28, 2015
Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury—Getty Images

We're not that great at paying attention. And while the ADAA estimates that about 4% of the adult population is dealing with ADHD, one survey from video conference provider Highfive confirmed that about 47% of employees say their main problem with meetings is that people don't pay attention. Are we too connected to our devices? Are meetings just that boring and inefficient? Whatever the truth may be, there are a couple of ways you can keep your boss from banning cellphones at your next meeting.

If your boss is frustrated with how little people are engaged at meetings, it could go a long way at the next company gathering if they sense that you're more engaged. But if you think that's easier said than done, here are a couple of ways you can fake it 'til you make it.

Adjust Your Body Language

As Sarah Cooper smartly points out, sometimes getting the perfect head position can say a whole lot more than anything you actually say or do. If you're actively making good eye contact, nodding when your boss makes a point, or even simply engaging them with your posture, it can go a long way. If you're a sloucher, try to imagine yourself pushing your shoulder blades together to keep your back straighter.

Bring a Note Pad

That same Highfive survey noted that 49% of attendants say they have used their smartphone during a meeting. In our uber-connected world, it may be refreshing for your boss to just see you off your device. To distract yourself, bring a legal note pad on which you can take some notes. If you're not much of a note taker, maybe you can take that time to journal some thoughts. Just remember to look up every now and then.

Ask a Few Questions

Now, this may sound hard if you're not actually paying attention, but a well-timed question every so often goes pretty far. Use the active listening strategy of reflecting to do it in a way that lets your boss feel like they don't have to repeat everything they just said: take some of the last bit of a point your boss is making, and paraphrase back to them — as a question of clarity.

Tag Team

If you can have a battle buddy on the inside, it can make all the difference for your energy level. Find a co-worker with whom you can create a game or challenge to see who can stay more engaged with your boss — or even who can insert a challenging word or phrase more often into the conversation. Knowing you've got someone else joining you in the struggle may actually bring out your best.

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