Rethinking relationships, pt. 2: being present
In part one I shared the concepts of self love and self awareness as part of the building blocks of rethinking relationships. We have been taught that to hold one’s own wellbeing and desires in high regard is selfish, when in fact it is the best way we can not only take care of ourselves but truly give and relate to others.
What do I have to do with you?
Daniel Goleman is an internationally known and acclaimed psychologist and author whose most popular work is his book “Emotional Intelligence” or EQ, that posits that IQ should not be the sole measure of someone’s ability. EQ is someone’s ability to be aware of other people – their signals, triggers, emotions and needs – and how you manage those dynamics in relationships.
Being socially aware
Some people are so in touch with themselves that they tune out the people around them or do not place importance on how other people feel or respond. Being an effective person generally and a leader especially is dependent upon this skill. One may say, “Why should I care about how someone else is feeling?” It is this skill that gives us empathy and relatability, and allows us to understand our environment, whether at work or in the community. Many acts of service come from this place. Not every person creates a support program because they experience the plight of the people they hope to help, but when you can imagine what it would feel like to be under paid, overworked, overlooked, hungry, abused or underserved, you can better relate to people around you.
Being present is one powerful way to understand self, others and environments. In this age of information and technology, being present is one of the hardest things to do. There is always something to think about and always something to do. There is always something to get our attention that is so ‘important’. Studies have shown that one of the first things people do today when they wake up is check their smart phones. On the contrary, studies of successful, grounded people show that their morning rituals of prayer, meditation, visualization and preparation for the day create better results and help them be more peaceful people. Conduct your own experiment this week. See how many people are on their smart phones when they should be focusing on the moment: in a conversation, at a meal, with someone, meeting a stranger that could be a great connection. Multitasking, though seemingly productive, is really not. It is better to focus on one thing at a time than trying to do many things at once.
How does being present help you understand others? When you focus completely on the moment you are in, you see, hear and feel more than you ever would have thought possible. You can really hear the tone of voice, notice a facial expression, and see body movement or an intense stare or averted gaze that can speak volumes.
When you are present, you can then take the next step in a relationship and actually be there for the other person. One of the techniques I learned in grief recovery is that our human tendency is to get a person to stop grieving by telling them not to cry and saying things we think will make them feel better – and usually don’t. When I am experiencing my deepest pain, most often just being in the presence of someone who really cares about me feels more supportive. Sitting in silence, knowing that person doesn’t even need to know what is really going on but just wants to be connected to me is far more powerful than being bombarded by well-meaning, poorly worded advice or rebuke. Only a person who is fully self aware can be fully there for another. When you are self aware, you don’t need to speak; you don’t need the credit of saying you got that person to ‘come around’. Your ego does not need to be fed, and you don’t need feel better about yourself because you helped someone else. None of that matters except that you are there. Let us practice presence this week. Be conscious and intentional this week. Put your phone down when you are in conversation or activity and see the difference. I’d love to hear about it!
Continue to follow us for part three of “Rethinking relationships: Having conversations that matter”.
• Simmone L. Bowe, MSc, SPHRi, is a seasoned human resource and organization development consultant & trainer, speaker, author, coach, and mentor who focuses on helping business owners, leaders and professionals diagnose their people and performance problems and implement strategic solutions. Do you want to be coached through your next transition for yourself or your company? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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