I never used to think too much about presence. In fact, I didn’t give it any thought. My focus was always on effective listening, asking powerful questions and aligning solutions with clients’ needs, goals and values. What impact did my presence have on my listening, asking and aligning?
My exploration of presence began a few years ago with my failed attempts at meditation. I would watch others enviously, who seemed to naturally thrive in a state of silent bliss. For me, meditation equaled frustration. The idea of “quieting my mind” was laughable. Still, I kept trying with no success.
Recently, I was given a gift. I was in the middle of my coaching program when the facilitator invited us to participate in a meditation as an attunement. “Oh great!” I thought. “Just what I need, another failed meditation experience.”
My wise facilitator sensed hesitation in the room. “Coaching is like meditation,” he said with a smile. My heart sank, but he continued “…Don’t try to clear your mind. When your mind wanders, notice it, and gently bring your attention back to the present.”
I breathed a sigh of relief. It was as if a giant weight had been lifted. My mind can wander, and instead of getting frustrated, I can kindly bring myself back into focus. This awareness shifted my lens for sales conversations with clients and the gift of presence.
Presence is the foundation upon which all conversations are built. When I’m not fully present, it impacts my level and quality of listening. When I’m not fully present, I don’t hear my intuition guiding my questions, and I may miss what is really important to my clients.
We all know that our “presence” for others is important, but we don’t spend much time thinking or talking about it. While it is common sense to ensure we are present for others, it isn’t common practice. How many conversations do you have where you notice that the other person is distracted? Or notice that you are?
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Presence is more than listening or asking meaningful questions. Presence is how you show up for your clients. There is a wonderful stillness in finding your presence. Time slows down and you show up open and receptive to whatever your client brings to you today.
What can you do to enhance your presence?
- It begins before the client calls or arrives in your office. It is your preparation before the interaction to release whatever noise or business consumed you moments before. If you ran from a previous meeting and your heart is racing, give yourself a moment to breathe and get present for your client.
- Reduce any noise, including visual and audio distractions in your meeting space. If you have a TV, computer or any technology on, take the time to turn it off instead of just turning down the volume.
- Be aware of what’s on your mind. If you feel your mind wandering, creating task lists, or you are mentally finishing your clients’ sentences, be kind to yourself as you notice where you are and gently bring your mind back to your client.
Knowing how rare it is to experience presence from others in our day-to-day interactions, presence is a rare gift that you can give to your clients.