This quote popped up on my Facebook feed this morning, reminding us to focus on presence rather than presents:
The only gifts that matter to others are the simple ones, the human ones, those of kindness, appreciation, friendship and LOVE. Let us remember they want our true presence more than presents. – Brendon Buchard.
It is something I (try to) adopt with the people I care about all through the year although particularly at this time of year when it is easy to go overboard with the presents.
Of course, I can apply this to my coaching practice too. One of the first things you (re)learn when you mentor, coach or provide support of some kind is to listen. Easy peasy, right? The problem is that we don’t always give our full attention to the person we are listening to.
I have had sessions where I have been pre-occupied with thoughts from a meeting I have just come from, or what I am going to have for dinner later or just generally my mind wandering off. I am physically present but not mentally present.
Whilst we all have off days and I do accept that and am kind to myself in terms of not beating myself up about it, it’s not the ideal scenario. Last year I spent 31 days actively trying to listen to people around me and making an effort to be 100% in that moment, holding the space for them. I heard so much more and learnt much about myself and others.
How can we listen better this Christmas?
So how do I ensure I am wholly present for the person I am listening to?
- I W.A.I.T – I ask myself: Why Am I Talking? I try and make time before a coaching session to have a moment or two of quiet so I can prepare myself to listen to the person who is talking
- By taking regular breaks so that I am emotionally and mentally available
- I actively focus. I remind myself to concentrate and put the other thoughts out of my mind; if they are really important I will remember them later
- I put down my phone/mobile device, turn off the radio or tv and give my full attention to the people I love
Michael Taft wrote a fantastic article in the Huffington Post which I found really useful. You can find it here.
This time next week we will be past Christmas and looking forward to the New Year so may I take the opportunity to wish you a very Merry Christmas, full of presence (and some presents), laughter, kindness and general merriment.