Hello? Are You There?


We recently ran a workshop exercise where listeners became distracted as the talker was speaking of something that they cared about. When this happened, the person talking became unable to communicate their thoughts – they lost words and the motivation to continue. It’s quite disorienting when you feel that you aren’t being listened to – when the other person isn’t present.

How often do you give your full attention and actively engage in conversations? How often are you present to what is happening around you?

I’ve started challenging myself to be present in my engagements – not picking up my phone or iPad, actively listening to those who are talking, engaging with thoughtful questions to better understand what is being said, opening my senses to “read the room.” I’m not always successful – being present is a muscle that constantly needs to be exercised.

Here are some suggestions to exercise yours:

  • Put away items that will distract you. There’s no need to fact-check on your phone during a conversation or read the latest text that pinged.
  • Slow down. Take in what’s being said. Pause before speaking. Seek connection.
  • Focus on the present moment. Notice and bring back your attention when your thoughts stray from the conversation at hand.
  • Open your senses to “read the room” as the conversation takes place. Seek what’s under the surface of what’s being said.
  • Appreciate the time spent in conversations – the connection, perspectives shared, a chance to be yourself.

We can gain so much when we are present with others. As Marshall B. Rosenberg said, “Your presence is the most precious gift you can give to another human being.”

This Week’s Challenge:  Pause. Consciously stop and notice – what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you are touching, what you feel. Connect to being present, especially with each other. This is a skill that takes practice in a world that is constantly throwing distractions at us. The beautiful thing, however, is that we can choose not to catch those distractions and, instead, deeply connect with the feeling of being present in the process.

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  1. Doug Brady on June 20, 2023 at 9:18 am

    Nice ME
    I need to exercise that muscle a lot more.

    Knew it was you before I saw the by-line.
    Froggy gave it away.

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