The Art of Being Present
Have you ever attempted conversation with a friend and their response gives the impression that they aren't fully engaged in listening? Maybe they check their phone while nodding and say things like "I'm listening. I promise." Perhaps you catch them glimpsing at the door or find their eyes constantly wandering toward strangers passing by. This kind of behavior doesn't encourage a deepening relationship, rather the inability of one party to actively listen. From one Jackie woman to another, we know that being fully present is a skill that will always serve you well. It will provide you with healthy, mutually supportive relationships and let's be honest, who doesn't want that?
How do we become fully present?
Put the other person first.
The primary mentality when interacting with others should be one of putting others first. When you adapt this approach, the focus will shift from you to them and that listening component will soon become so ingrained in your conversational habits, that you won't have to give it a second thought. It never hurts to ask too many questions. Your ability to engage will demonstrate your dedication to putting others first. People love to talk about themselves, so let them!
If you find yourself losing focus and getting easily distracted, take note of what is holding your attention. If it is your phone that keeps buzzing on the table, put it away. If it is a busy location with lots of foot traffic, focus on maintaining eye contact or suggest a walk in a quieter location. Don't beat yourself up for being easily distracted, rather, notice the distraction and do what you can to eliminate or minimize the conversation killer.
Put yourself in their shoes.
This is an essential component, especially when someone is sharing something deeply personal and intimate with you. Take a moment to empathize and think about what emotions they must be feeling. Let yourself feel with them. Being empathetic rests at the heart of being fully present. When you are able to become so invested in the words of another, it is nearly impossible to focus on anything else.
Compassion is about your ability to relate to someone else, but more than that, it allows for a deeper human connection. Compassion isn't always easy, but it is worth it. Let yourself become deeply invested in the stories of those around you. Distractions will melt away when you let yourself open up to the person right in front of you. Don't be afraid to interject shared stories and experiences. Being able to relate and be compassionate will transform a typical coffee date to a more meaningful conversation that lays the foundation for a much deeper connection.
As a Jackie woman, remember to be patient with yourself when practicing the art of being present. In addition, be patient with others when they fail to fully engage with you in a meaningful way. These things do not always come easily, but being open and honest with one another will propel your relationship forward. Remember, things worth having never come easily and things that come easily aren't always worth having!