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Be Present, and Listen For

October 1, 2012

I find that each person I meet, and each conversation I have contains a nugget of gold that I could have easily missed if I weren’t paying attention.  That’s right, each one.

Paying attention is getting harder and harder, though.  I have visited with friends, and met with colleagues or clients that have not been present during most of our time together.  Either checking email, twitter, text messages or whatever, they are half paying attention to our conversation.

When our time is over, I am left half complete.  Either I did not get the information I was hoping to get, or I was unable to communicate what I had hoped to communicate.  They are probably not totally sure of what just happened.  For sure, any personal connection was absent.

I have also experienced the opposite.  When the person I am with is not interested in their phone, their email, or any other interruption.  I leave our time together feeling full, and our time together was extremely productive.

Over the course of the last couple of years, I have had two dear business friends give me their advice on this matter.  One suggested to always be “listening for,” and the other emphasized always being “present.”  Both of those pieces of advice have stuck with me.  I am reminded by them of how important it is to be in the moment, giving full attention to the person you are with, or to the experience you are engaged in.

I don’t bring my phone to meetings – whether I am with my kids, or with my clients, or with my friends.  I want to be completely present with them, listening for the wisdom that I would otherwise have missed.

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