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I have trouble remembering instant things in mind. It really feels weird when I am talking about something and then I ask the person talking to me as, "Excuse me! Where were we?." I have been told by many people that I am very inattentive in conversations. I would be very thankful if anyone could help me out with it. Thanks

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Is it a short-term memory thing, i.e. you are paying attention but you just don't remember. Or does your mind keep wandering during the conversation? – THelper Jan 16 '12 at 8:32
@THelper: I keep wandering all the time. – Fahad Uddin Jan 16 '12 at 8:47
up vote 12 down vote accepted

It's quite natural for your mind to wander. If you sit still for a few minutes and try to watch your thoughts, you wil find that your mind is almost continuously going from one thought to another. Fortunately you can train your mind to focus. Try to focus on one task at a time as much as possible. This goes for everything you are doing, even something simple like brushing your teeth or doing the dishes. When you notice that you got distracted, just go back to your task and focus again. You will find that this not only improves your efficiency in doing your tasks, in time you will increase your attention span and get less distracted.

This also applies to conversations. Force yourself to listen carefully. If you find yourself distracted, focus again on the conversation. Practice this for all conversations and you will improve your listening skills.

If you are interested, this technique of training your mind is the basis of mindfulness. Some people find it difficult to start with mindfullness because they are unsure if they are doing it right. If you are one of those people it may help to follow an introductory course.

EDIT: I just found an article that explains the above more scientifically and with more tips:

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There's a technique called "active listening" that may help. While using it, you listen with a goal of being able to repeat back (paraphrased) what the speaker is saying. There's more than that, but just that much helped me quite a bit years ago. Google the phrase and see what some of the links you find have to say - it may help you.

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This. Listening is a skill that needs to be learned, much like reading or (public) speaking. – Muz Apr 11 '13 at 15:15

It's possible you have Attention Deficit Disorder.

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I agree. This is an extremely common trait for people with ADHD. Maybe the OP should get diagnosed. It's helped several people I know (myself, included). – Mark Freedman Jan 19 '12 at 18:13

What distracts you? Is it:

  • other tasks on your mind
  • other things going on around you (radio, TV, ...)
  • emotions, memories, etc.

Try to identify what causes your distraction, and then when you know the cause, try to eliminate that cause.

For instance, turn off the TV. I am very easily distracted by computer screens, incoming email, etc. so when people talk to me I deliberately turn myself away from the screen, or minimize all windows.

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Aim to be silent as much as possible.
Often inattention comes from you thinking about what you're going to say next... which results in you not focusing so much on the other persons conversation. Try making the aim and goal of some conversations to be basically paraphrasing what the other person says, without adding your own 'content'.

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