As I sat by myself at a restaurant working on my laptop, I kept overhearing a group of four women at the table next to me. From time to time, they would say something that caught my attention, and I’d find myself eavesdropping a bit. (When you’re on the road by yourself you take whatever entertainment you can get).
One of the four complained that her husband was traveling for work so much that it felt like he was never around. Then she said something particularly interesting: “But at least when he’s here, he does a good job of being fully present.”
What an interesting phrase. What a particularly relevant phrase for our current times. I knew exactly what she meant by “fully present.” Many professionals are so busy and get so engrossed in their professional lives that they can’t seem to turn it off and slow down when they’re with family and friends.
As a husband, dad and all-around busy guy, I can relate. Don’t get me wrong; I love time with my family and friends, but they would probably say I’m not always fully present. There are times when my mind is elsewhere. And that’s not good.
Upon hearing that woman in the restaurant, I wondered, “How often have I short-changed my family during our time together because I was worried about a proposal deadline the next day?”
Daydreaming, worrying and preoccupation aren’t the only reasons people fail at being fully present. Cell phones and other devices are more overt ways of detaching from people who are sitting right next to us.
It’s not just our family and friends for whom we must be fully present. Many of us neglect and take for granted colleagues and clients.
If you have trouble being fully present in your professional life, it could come back to haunt you in the form of diminished career advancement and fewer clients. Here are five ways, you can make yourself more fully present in your work:
Attentive Mindset – When you’re with another person, whether it’s one of your employees or a prospective customer, you need to make that person feel like nobody in the world matters more at least during the time you’re together. Remember that the person you are with could say something that alters the trajectory of your career. Something they say could lead to a huge sale. You might miss it if you’re not fully present.
Time Management – The more control you have over your time, the less likely you are to be preoccupied. If you are proactive and things are getting done on time, you’ll be under less pressure, thus making it more likely you can settle into the moment and actually enjoy time with people.
Mastering Technology – Make sure your technology works for you and not the other way around. CRM systems are a perfect example. They have done wonders for the productive power of sales teams, but when they are used improperly, they lead to reduced communication, less face-to-face interaction and diminished trust between employees and bosses.
Break the Addiction – Looking at my phone is addictive. Every few minutes, even during meetings, I have an impulse to look at my phone. Sometimes it’s as if my hand decides on its own to reach into my pocket and grab my phone. To avoid this temptation, some people purposely leave their phones on their desks or in their cars during meetings.
Protective Restraint – If you’re a successful professional with good leadership and communication skills, you are in demand. People constantly try to get you to volunteer and participate in company-wide projects, committees and task forces that have nothing to do with your core responsibilities. Politically, you need to accept some of these opportunities, but don’t allow yourself to be overwhelmed with “extra-curricular” activities. If you do, it can be awfully difficult to focus on one thing at a time.