Coach's Corner

Being Present

A first-step look into improving relationships and taking control of your goals.

Being Present: The action of being fully committed to the moment or situation happening in “The Now.”

As a rule, most professionals are always taught that they need to “be present” during client conversations. It sounds obvious but given all the potential distractions that exist in today’s world, it’s easy to unintentionally train your mind to focus on too many things at once. Being present has a profound effect on relationships of all kinds from personal to professional. Think about your best moments in life. Were they happening while texting or were they when you were fully engaged in something? Is your best work done while your watch is vibrating with notifications or when you’re fully committed into the main goal of a project?

Being present is a devotion into what you’re doing. It involves removing distractions, like your phone or TV, but it also involves committing your mind to fully connecting to what is going on. That’s where the tough part comes in. Have you ever been in a conversation with someone and your mind is quickly distracted or is even anticipating the words a person is telling you? Those are two examples that pull you away from being present. If you’re already assuming you know what someone is saying, then you aren’t focused on what the person is telling you at all. You might be great at anticipating someone’s words but that doesn’t mean you’re focused on the emotion of those words and the details surrounding them. Here’s an example:

“He didn’t pick up my call again and I’m sick and tired of it!” Explained Linda.
“He didn’t pick up my call again and I’m sick and tired of it!” Explained Linda as she let out a sigh of saddened frustration and her eyes looked away holding back heartfelt tears. She was once again finding herself not being able to move forward on a project she so critically wanted to complete.

In the first example, most people will go right into thinking Linda is very angry. In the second example though, the additional information shows you that she’s actually hurt by the situation and struggling. Writers will often give extra information to drive you deeper into being present with what you’re reading. They’re giving you a more representational view with a clear goal in mind. The same can be said with live person-to-person conversations and case-handling.

Imagine having a conversation with someone while scrolling through your phone. There is no way you can be fully present in that moment because your attention is clearly shifting continually. When we just half-listen to words, our brains are automatically assuming tons of other details that may or may not be true. Most of all, those we’re in conversation with are likely noticing and not feeling valued whether they openly say it or privately think it. Visually, it’s an easy thing for someone being partially focused on to notice. The same is also true for over-the-phone conversations that don’t allow for visual cues.

So how do we stay present in a conversation over the phone? The goal should be to remove all factors that can inhibit your ability to be focused on the conversation. Some ideas include:

  • Remove distractions that might suddenly take your attention from the conversation;
  • Determine your goal(s) for the conversation prior to starting (and write them down if it helps);
  • Listen intently and be sure to not interrupt; and
  • Ask relevant questions that help build the conversation forward toward your goals.

While conversation is a single representation of Being Present, an additional layer of the concept can be added when looking at it as a broad situational idea. Think about the most recent case you were looking into at the firm. What is your specific goal for that case? You might want to answer, “to create chaos” or “to create an aggressive strategy that can open doors to a better solution for the client.” Both answers can be acceptable from a theoretical stance, but our focus should be on clearly defining specific goals. Here’s an example of the additional thought process once the clearly defined goal has already been established:

“Filing the appeal is an appropriate stall tactic in this case. The client will see we followed through and haven’t stopped creating chaos.”
“Filing the appeal is a great step but my overall strategy involves finding additional ways to protect the client. I’m going to look for any potential liens and let the client know what I’ve set up to make sure they’re covered.”

In future articles, we’ll discuss deeper goals, measurability, and structure, but for this topic’s purpose, both of the above examples represent important thoughts. However, the second statement connected back to the overarching clearly defined goal of a protective standard in comparison to the first. With it, you’re able to focus on the idea that there’s always additional steps that can prove useful to keep the case moving forward for the client. That mindset is an example of Being Present through situations as opposed to just interaction. Situational Presence creates a deeper connection with clients and anyone you are building relationships with because it is always a catalyst for forward communication.

Being Present is a subtopic of “The Now” and helps to guide the growth you make in all relationships. The next time you find yourself upset with a close friend, trying to connect to a client, or wanting to take things to another level, focus on stepping into The Now and Being Present. In conversation, that involves removing all distractions, focusing on hearing the words a person is using, and paying close attention to all the elements of the conversation. With situations, Being Present is all about preemptively knowing the bigger picture and following through with positive actions that focus on the clearly defined goal.

Mastering this concept gives you a powerful tool to connect with people, helps you achieve greater success on a deeper level, and creates avenues to finding more relevant topics that drive everyone forward in daily conversation!

Being Present is key

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