The concept of “Being Present” has become well understood within the circles of self-help, metaphysics and spirituality, yet also has great significance for the business world as well. The concept essentially means that “being present” is a state of living in which we are continually striving to be aware of our thought process and emotional patterns in each and every moment; that we are striving to fully feel all our emotions whether pleasant or unpleasant, and to continually examine our underlying thought process and motivations.
In business nowadays, we tend to celebrate those that are effective “multi-taskers” as being individuals who are so efficient that they can do more than one thing at one time. Yet there have been studies that show that our brains simply don’t function this way, that multitasking is really a process very similar to computers rapidly shifting from one task to the next as if accomplishing multiple tasks all at the same time.
How many times have we been in meetings and observed people multitasking with e-mail or text while not closely following the conversation? At times I’m guilty of this myself. Yet, isn’t it that multi-taskers are not being fully present with the conversation when we have to repeat what’s been said for their sake? Some people seem very adept at it, and may seem completely engrossed in a text conversation and then respond to something in the meeting as though they have been carefully following all along. But, are they really fully there?
Let’s consider an alternative for just a moment. Is multitasking really fun or enjoyable? I don’t think so. I find it exhausting, and more to the point, when strategy is being discussed, when human dynamics are being discussed, or when tricky situations are being worked through, I’m not giving the conversation 100% of what I have to offer if my attention is bifurcated.
What I find myself doing these days when on lengthy conference calls of high importance or even medium importance, is to swivel my chair to face away from my computer, lean back, put my feet up in a relaxed repose, close my eyes, and concentrate 100% of all that I have into the conversation. When I do this I find it infinitely easier to zero in on the core issues, to hear not only what people are saying but also what they’re not saying, to perceived tension points, to discover what excites people or resonates with them, and to intuit what the conversation is most in need of in order to arrive at creative solutions.
When I concentrate this way on a conversation I can hear so much subtlety that it paints a textured picture in my mind of all the dynamics at play. It is through this textured understanding that I’m able to approach solutions that will be more inclusive and respectful for all. There is also a great fringe benefit, that through the act of being fully present, I’m showing respect to each individual in the meeting, that their time is valuable enough for me to give them all of my attention.