How often are you truly present with someone? We live in a world constantly on the go, always busy, always rushed, always moving from one thing to the next and claiming there’s not enough hours in the day. Can you remember the last time you sat with someone and gave them all of you; your undivided attention, without interrupting, moving about, shifting from one irrelevant thought to the next in your mind and listening to respond and not to hear? To be truly present with someone is incredibly hard to do because we have evolved as a species to really only ever be still when we’re sleeping. The power of speech is the most powerful when there are ears to cleanly hear.
I have really enjoyed an exercise we do here called Time to Think, created by Nancy Klein. Essentially it’s all about taking turns and giving everyone the chance to answer a specific question, with no one else responding in any way – be that verbal, or through facial expressions or body language. The idea is to just be truly present and get lost in the words being spoken, which is far harder than it actually sounds! A great analogy Lou and Danielle used during a workshop this week is to imagine looking at yourself watching a movie in the cinema you are completely engrossed in – this will be you being truly present.
Also this week I listened in for the first time to a group coaching session conducted over the phone. I didn’t really know what to expect from this and thought that some of the great impact you can have with face-to-face interactions would be lost. However it was quite different. The use of language, the choice of words and the structure of sentences were intensified because that is all you can focus on. You can really hear the emotion come through in the pitch and tone of the speaker as all your energy is being channeled through just one of your senses; auditory. The pauses and silences were incredibly powerful and not awkward like I would have thought, they allowed time for reflection. As I have mentioned before, extroverts speak to think whereas introverts think to speak, so these moments of quiet can be incredibly powerful for introverts.
Regardless of whether you are one on one with someone, in a group or on the phone in that present moment there is nowhere else you are, so you might as well make the most of being there and truly be present. We are all thinking peers and should therefore be respected when sharing our thoughts. Allow yourself to just solely focus on what is being said and digest that as if you were alone reading it in a book.
This week has really shifted the way I engage in conversation and listening, I am trying to no longer be thinking about what I’m going to say next but really value every word spoken by whomever; I believe this shift to have tremendous potential to my own development and contributions I make as well as adding more value and energy to the interaction overall.
Written by Maimee Morris – Intern.