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At a visit with my acupuncturist, I commented on her ring (I love it). She explained to me it’s her visual cue, a reminder to be fully present and purposeful each time she taps a needle into a client. Wow. I was impressed. To be fully present and purposeful. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

It gets me thinking… How often do we drift into “auto-pilot”? Sometimes alone, like when we arrive at a destination and can’t recall the journey. Sometimes when we’re with others… We can likely recall a time when we realized someone we were speaking with wasn’t really there…maybe they nodded in agreement, maybe they noticed when our tone changed, but we knew they weren’t present. Yes, they were physically there, but that’s all. And I wonder…When might someone recall a time when I wasn’t present? When I wasn’t purposeful in my listening, considering, participating…when I was on auto-pilot, or I was more concerned about something or someone else?

I work with so many leaders and teams who wrestle with this very challenge – confident, competent, successful professionals who fear they are not seeing the engagement they expect from their teams…something’s missing. We dig deeper and discover…the problem is theirs. They weren’t hearing what was being said, they weren’t understanding the full message. Listening – that’s what's missing.

When we choose to be present, we give the other person our full attention. We listen with purpose – to hear what is being said, to understand. Not to respond. Presence is not about the past, nor about the future – it’s about right here, right now, I’m here for you. Imagine a work environment where our conversations involve colleagues who are truly present. And it’s easier than you think. Turn to make contact, not just with the eyes, the whole body posture. Turn off the phone. Put down the pen or other tool. Commit to listening. You’ll be amazed. Commit to be consistent (purposeful) with this practice, and you will experience a shift – in how you and your colleagues interact. As a listener, you’ll learn more. And when you’re doing the talking, that listening will be reciprocated. Conversations won’t need to be repeated. Misunderstandings will stop. People will be engaged, willing and eager to do more, do better, pitch in. All because when they need you to hear them, you are present. Purposeful.

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