Four Tips for Being Fully Present with People: A Coaching Perspective

Be Aware, Listening and Engaged words on papers pinned to a bullWhat 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 WatkinsTerry 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.

9 thoughts on “Four Tips for Being Fully Present with People: A Coaching Perspective

  1. Thanks Terry. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me frustrated that those around me are seeing the world through their screen and not paying me any attention .studies are showing that the focus on the screen actually creates deafness for the person and they actually aren’t hearing you .

  2. Couldn’t agree more a weakness of mine that I know I need to fix, will try the four tips next time someone needs my time

  3. Focused listening is a rare gift. We could all give that gift more often. Thanks Terry for the great suggestions.

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  5. A great topic for conversation Terry. It can be really frustrating and hurtful when we don’t receive the presence we deserve. I’m finding the more I develop inner presence and connection with myself first, the more present I can be with others. This is an unfolding process, and the Gentle Breath meditation has really supported me with this.

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  7. Thank you, I read and now I am doing the complete opposite. I have been giving people too much of my time. Three times I greeted people that I know, ask how they were doing or how someone in their family was, I got mean, nasty responses. I am so happy, I am going to behave as badly as everyone else from now on and even get a fake iphone and pretend I am talking on it. Last Sunday after putting my grocery in my car’s trunk, I left the cart right behind my car and drove forward didn’t look back or care.
    I see people doing this all the time, I left a car in the middle of a parking lot, and I like it.
    Katy Perry may have kissed a girl and liked it be leaving a just leave the cart was the better.

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