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The Importance of Being Fully Present

In today’s age of constant distractions and multi-tasking, it’s all too easy to slip into the habit of not being fully present. When someone tells us something we think we’ve already heard, our minds can drift elsewhere. But this behavior—whether conscious or unconscious—can send a subtle but critical message to our employees and then infect the entire organization.

Invest in Listening

Being a leader, you want your employees to feel like they can come to you with questions or problems. This requires you to make time to communicate with them while being fully present.

Say you’re sitting in your office, working at your computer. Someone comes to your door and asks, “Hey, can I talk to you for a minute?” Engrossed in your work, you barely look up, responding, “I’m in the middle of a big project. Can you come back later?”

You just sent an indelible message—although unintentionally—that no one should interrupt you when you’re busy. If you’d broken away from your work for thirty seconds, you could have determined if you were needed for only a minute. If so, you could have immediately

invested that minute in being responsive to a valued employee. If a longer conversation was required, you could have set an appointment to meet at a mutually convenient time.

Send Positive Messages

We unconsciously send these kinds of negative messages every day, and they can undermine trust and do other kinds of damage to our employee relationships and the company’s bottom line. Changing our behavior starts with being aware of the effect our words and actions, including our body language, may have on employees. Be open and welcoming so others feel like they can trust coming to you to talk.

Engaged and Listening

To be fully present, stop what you’re doing, make eye contact with the other person, and listen. This is how you send a message that enhances communication and builds trust. Although we may never achieve perfection, there’s no question that we can move the needle dramatically in the right direction. Our employees, understandably, pay close attention to what we say and do. To communicate effectively, we need to be sensitive to the effects that our behavior and communications have on our employees. Then we can be fully present, as any leader in any setting should be.

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