Have you ever tried to talk with someone while she/he is heavily engaged in a movie? The result was a minimal level of communication.
Were you ever on a conference call checking your e-mail while others talked? You remembered only half of the discussion.
Was another person more concerned that you listen to him/her than to stop and ask whether you wanted to be heard to as well? You felt like an audience in some bad performance.
All these are typical scenarios in our fast-paced me-centered world.
Contrast the above examples with the CEO who would get into the elevator with just about any of his thousands of employees and greet them by name, know something about their world, and for those few seconds be totally there for them. Granted his photographic memory was remarkable but all of us could do better at being fully present when the occasion so demands.
The result of not being fully present is that
- Everyone knows we are not fully there for them.
- We live with unnecessarily high levels of stress generated by brains that seem to operate at light-speed.
- We cannot sleep at night because our “Energizer mind” keeps going and going.
- The more we become addicted to hyper-activity the more alone we and others feel.
Stop and pause
Ways of pausing include,
- Take time out from our electronic devices. I know an executive who receives 300-400 emails a day and has learned so to prioritize that he only responds in depth to 10 a day. Such prioritizing is not easy but possible.
- Recognize that the tendency to be at the center of our own universe requires our conscious effort to be other-centered.
- We could ask,
“What is this person really saying?”
“How do they feel about it?”
“Why is it important to them?”
What small steps have you taken to be present?