You’ve probably heard those words dozens of times (or even more if you’re a day-dreamer like me!). But have you ever wondered why we are asked to pay attention, as if there’s a cost involved? How much is attention worth? Do you take plastic? And what will I be receiving in exchange for my attention? It better be worth it. I think it means that listening is not a passive act. Someone once said that we have two ears and but only one mouth, and we should use them in that proportion (I’m not sure who said that—I wasn’t listening!). Studies show that we retain between 25 -50% of what we hear, although I would guess the lower end of the scale. Increasingly, we are bombarded by distractions, and multiple loan sharks of information are demanding to be paid. It’s time to slow down. Be present with the speaker. Make eye contact. Take out the earbuds, pocket the cell phone, turn off the TV and ignore the people bustling around you. Reflect on what is being said, but don’t jump to conclusions or let bias close your mind. Be the audience you would like when you want to be heard. Then maybe you’ll be rewarded with something of tremendous value (if not information, perhaps a genuine connection with another human being). And if the other person won’t stop talking? It’s time to make them pay!