What does it mean to be fully present with others?
I am sure everyone has experienced talking to someone who was not present. Conversations with a spouse or partner come to mind. I know at times I have shared something with my spouse that I was really excited about or thought was very important and did not get the response I was looking for—or any response at all—with the computer or television taking precedence. I realized my spouse was not fully present with me at the moment.
I have also experienced another’s lack of presence in a work setting. For example, recently I was talking to a colleague while several people were moving and interacting around us. My colleague was barely responding to what I was saying. I felt my colleague was more interested in the people interacting around us and preferred to be with them.
In both of these experiences, I felt disconnected with the person. I also felt that the information I was sharing was not important enough. And I walked away both times feeling deflated.
Have you had similar experiences? How did you feel?
As a professional coach, I’ve learned how important it is to avoid being distracted by my own thoughts in order to be present with another person. As a leader, you need to do the same. When you are fully present with team members, you listen more deeply and also from a curiosity perspective. As a result, team members—like clients—feel heard, understood, and acknowledged. This leads to people feeling safe and secure in their partnership with you. It also increases trust.
Ready to increase your ability to be present with others? Here are four tips for getting started.
- Recap or summarize what the person is sharing. This forces you to listen for understanding and to be curious in your questions in order to understand deeply.
- WAIT (Why Am I Talking?) Stop yourself from prematurely forming opinions and responses. Instead, focus on quieting yourself.
- Do not multi-task. Give the person your full, undivided attention. If the timing is not good, schedule another time to speak with the person.
- Breathe. In the beginning, spend a few seconds on your breathing to center yourself in order to be present. This will allow you to focus on what is most important at the moment—the person in front of you.
As a coach, I am keenly aware of the importance of being present with my clients. To alleviate distractions before a coaching call, I take conscious steps such as turning the volume off on my phone, closing down my email inbox, shutting my office door, and taking a few deep breaths to center myself. The key for a coach is making the client a priority and closing out everything else to be fully present.
How are you at being present with your direct reports, colleagues, and family members? Try these four tips. I’m sure it will help you in your interactions with others just as it helps me in mine.
About the Author
Terry Watkins is a coaching solutions partner with The Ken Blanchard Companies Coaching Services team. Since 2000, Blanchard’s 130 coaches have worked with over 14,500 individuals in more than 250 companies throughout the world. Learn more at Blanchard Coaching Services. And check out Coaching Tuesday every week at Blanchard LeaderChat for ideas, research, and inspirations from the world of executive coaching.