On ‘being’ Present

As a leadership coach and counselor, I work with people who want to improve the way they interact with others – at their job, in their families and socially.

When clients participate in a 360 assessment, a comprehensive insight report or a leadership self-assessment, one of the lowest reported behaviors is  “Gives others his/her full presence and attention during meetings and conversations.” If you take time to observe your personal behavior and that of others you work or live with, you’ll understand why the behavior of being fully present is often rated so low.

The increasing levels of dependence on smartphones and other electronics are well documented. If you’re paying attention to, or distracted by what’s on a screen, you’re not fully present for the people you’re actually talking with. Earlier this year, I worked with an executive who decided to focus on being more present for her staff. She made some choices that made a difference in her being present for her staff. Some of her choices included:

  1. Putting the smartphone away during meetings, out of reach.
  2. Turning off the computer screen during meetings. Fully focus on the person with no distractions.
  3. Conducting meetings away from her desk so she wouldn’t be distracted by anything on it.
  4. Asking people who stuck their head in her office for a quick question while she was talking to someone else, to come back later.
  5. Negotiating a call back time with her partners rather than stopping what she was doing for an important call or question.

When I asked her to reflect on the impact of making those changes, she said what surprised her most was that she felt not only like a better boss but also like a better person.  She said that after a few weeks of being very present, she realized that her distractibility had been a lack of respect for the people she was working with and cared for.

The ongoing benefit and growth for my client have continued. By being more present at work, she’s found that she’s more patient outside of work as well. Her daughter has been home from college this summer and she’s strengthened her relationship with her by giving her more of her undivided attention. She said, “I am so much more aware of what’s going on around me. I have become a much better listener and observer of others.”

That’s a lot of positive leverage out of something as simple as deciding to be more present in your life.

This week, work on being present.

For example:

– Enjoy your work. Don’t be too busy thinking about deadlines or bottom lines, to give yourself a chance to enjoy it. Do your best work – for the right reasons.

– Don’t be so distracted by thoughts of Monday morning that you spoil the weekend.

– Do not let the opinions of others, formed through actions you took in the past, stop you from being who you are in the present.

Wherever you are, commit to being there, completely. Life will take care of the rest.

Pick a meeting or two where you’re going to put the smartphone away, turn off your computer and silence the ringer on your desk phone. Family dinner or movie night? Electronics away! Notice what happens relationally. Then do it again.

You just might be pleasantly surprised at the benefits of being fully present in your own life.

If you have an interest in doing a leadership assessment, contact me at cheryl@heldtogether.net  It would be my pleasure to work with you.