Is Anyone Present?
Post by Linda Thrasher, Himle Rapp's Corporate Practice Leader. You can follow her on Twitter @lindakthrasher
My colleague, Todd Rapp, and I recently had the opportunity to lead a workshop for a large Fortune 500 company on the theme of “Creating Impact” through enhancing your communication and influencing skills.
One of the segments we addressed was the fact you can speak volumes without talking, especially when you consider the importance an audience gives your non-verbal skills (e.g. think UCLA Professor Mehrabian’s well-known formula on how audiences judge speaker performance: 7% verbal, 38% tone, 55% visual).
But, another aspect we raised is the whole notion of being present. Seriously, who really listens anymore? Who is truly focused during conversations? I was reminded by this when my husband and 8-year-old son returned from a school community building campout this spring. “How was the campout?” I asked when both got home. My son had a great time, but my husband remarked later that while the boys ran off to play, the fathers all grabbed their phones and sat heads down around the campfire answering e-mails and text messages. “Kind of strange,” my spouse noted, “no one really interacted.”
To suggest I’m always fully present during conversations would be absurd. In fact, I can easily get distracted with the best of them. But, given we’re a society fixated on multi-tasking and managing our lives with our mobile devices, it underscores the fact that if we want to make a positive impact and be influential, we can start with simply being present and giving others our undivided attention.
Todd and I had an engaging conversation with the workshop attendees on this issue and a number of ideas surfaced:
- Conduct long conference calls via video conference (no way to hide that you’re answering e-mails instead)
- Put your mobile device out of sight during meetings and conversations (eliminate the temptation)
- Take notes (forces focus)
- Meet people away from your work area (avoid all of the lurking work sitting on your desk)
- Live in the moment (relish the here and now)
I’m not certain if any university has tackled the value equation and efficiency of truly being present and engaged during business or personal conversations. But, I can assure you, if you want to speak volumes without talking, think about how you participate in conversations and meetings. Note that I have my own work cut out for me too.
Need more tips? Check out Fast Company’s July/August 2013 edition on unplugging.
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