Are you present? In the moment? If you are, kudos because being authentic and emotionally present is very rare today and can set you apart.
Iím a great believer in being present. When people are present, theyíre fully attentive, involved in their work and performing at their best. Being with fully present people is satisfying Ė you want to work with someone who is flexible, accessible and engaged. Those types of people bring great strengths to any team.
Being present means being ready and intuitive. Eighty eight percent of the mistakes that are made at work have to do with communication breakdowns. Iíll bet most of those breakdowns can be traced to distractedness. I know, I know, multitasking is supposed to be one of the great strengths of the modern worker but frankly, I think itís a bunch of crap. If youíre talking on the phone, answering email and getting an instant message, youíre not doing any of those things very well. You sound distracted and you are. Youíre not present, dig?
Being present means being sensitive and empathic. Youíre reading peopleís moods and responding to slight changes in the atmosphere. If youíre present, youíre listening for the meta-messages, the underlying message that lurks beneath the surface. Thatís what I mean by being flexible Ė if you sense your supervisor is under stress, thatís not the right time to talk about a pay increase or a title promotion.
Presence has to do with energy, too. You canít be present if youíre depleted or deprived so you must figure out a way to constantly renew or refuel your sense of engagement. If your office culture thrives on constant stress and you sense a growing disengagement with your work, recognize the signs of depletion and take a 30 minute break everyday. Walk around the block, go buy yourself a cup of coffee, find a tree and read the newspaper. Those 30 minutes by yourself, doing something that you enjoy doing, will put the enthusiasm back in the engine.
The enemies of presence are apathy and anxiety. Be attuned to your feelings so you can avoid the danger of stagnation and disengagement. And keep tabs on your emotional gas tank. The minute you see yourself dipping below full, itís time to get a refill on the one quality that makes everyone fabulous to be around: Presence.