Our relationships influence every area of our lives. From the friends we attract to the promotions we receive, all of our personal and professional success is built on relationships. This is why it is critical that we do the little things that nourish and strengthen our relationships with others.
Every day we interact with people. During these conversations, it is important that we be fully present and give people our undivided attention. If we aren’t careful, we can be distracted and run the risk of being viewed as rude, inconsiderate, and disrespectful.
Ten Subtle Ways to Be Present During a Conversation.
Using Electronic Devices
1. Avoid multitasking when on the phone. People aren’t stupid; they can tell when we are trying to do several jobs simultaneously. There are very few things that are a greater turn-off to me than when I am talking on the phone with people who are distracted because they are trying to multitask. When this happens, I pause and tell them I will wait until they are finished.
2. Don’t answer the phone when speaking with someone. During a conversation, whether it’s in-person or over the phone, we should resist the temptation to answer an incoming call. When we do answer the phone, we are implying that this call is more important than they are. The only exception for me is if it’s my wife or an urgent call I was expecting. During these rare occurrences, I apologize and quickly resume our conversation.
3. Avoid scanning your phone for messages. When we are with people and pull out our mobile devices to scan for messages, we are basically saying, “I’m done talking with you, let me see what else I have going on.” When this is done in meetings, we are saying, “This discussion is of no interest to me, what else can I accomplish while I sit through this boring presentation.”
4. Take out the Bluetooth device when having in-person conversations. Remove your ear device and give your full attention to the person with whom you are speaking. Don’t make people think you are waiting for your phone to ring, or that you are trying to listen to someone else.
5. Give your full attention to the person speaking. A friend told me of his experience with this very subject. He said, “I knocked on my daughter’s door to talk with her about something important. She kept one eye on her computer while we talked and acted like she wanted me to hurry up and leave. I have seen this in the workplace and probably have done this or worse myself in the past.” Ouch! His comment hit me right between the eyes because I am just as guilty as his daughter. Don’t let the computer or the television destroy your communication.
Concerning Daily Encounters
6. Avoid looking over people’s shoulders at social events. Have you ever been engaged in a conversation with someone who kept looking over your shoulder at other people? How did it make you feel? When we are in the middle of a conversation with people, let’s give them our full attention and use self-control not to look around.
7. Keep your body language involved in the conversation. This past week I attended several group meetings. Some were in a boardroom, some at dinner, and others in small group settings. In each meeting I could tell who had an interest in the topic and who didn’t. During a very important discussion, one gal made it clear through her body language that she wasn’t interested. I’m certain that she had no clue as to the signs she was giving off, but they were obvious to those of us involved.
8. Strive to be present in both body and mind in every conversation.
My wife has accused me more than once of not being mentally present when she has been talking. In our fast-paced world, it’s easy for our minds to wander off, especially if the topic is not of personal interest. To avoid this, be intentional about giving those people with whom you are conversing your full attention.
9. Pause and focus on the person you are greeting. Have you ever been introduced to someone at a social event or business meeting who seemed totally preoccupied with some activity beyond you? Remember how you felt the next time you meet someone. Take 5–10 seconds to smile, make eye contact, repeat his/her name, and offer a sincere greeting.
10. Acknowledge people. Take yourself off autopilot and be intentional about acknowledging people wherever you are. If you are an introvert, like me, this requires an extra effort. Whether it’s your fellow students, co-workers, or neighbors, show people they are important by smiling, saying hi, waving or whatever is appropriate.
When we intentionally give our full attention to those with whom we are interacting, we show through our actions that they are valued and important. When we show respect to people in this manner, our relationships improve, we feel better about ourselves and our value to the market grows.
Let me encourage you to be intentional to give 100% of your attention to those with whom you are speaking.
There is no better way to show your interest in people than by giving them your undivided attention.
About the Author: Todd Smith is a successful entrepreneur of 30 years and founder of Little Things Matter. To receive Todd’s lessons, subscribe here. All Todd’s lessons are also available on iTunes as downloadable podcasts. (Todd’s podcasts are ranked #24 in America’s top 100 podcasts and #1 in the personal and development field.)