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  • Writer's pictureDr. Christine Senn, PhD

Being Present Can Change Your Life

Hi. What I want to talk to you about today is your presence. Your presence in whatever you do is extremely important. And if you're thinking, well, of course I'm present, I show up for the dinner with my family, or I show up for work, I'm there physically—well, this is more about your interaction with other people and how much you commit to being with those people at that moment. And so, you must separate out the components of your life. And I don't mean that all of our life should be separated or be in components, but that when you're focused on one person, you necessarily cannot focus on another portion of your life. I'm not perfect at this, but it's about getting better wherever you can. And whenever I have made the decision to get better, it was a few years ago I think when I made that decision, it truly changed my relationships. It was my friendships especially, where I was locking it in.

So, let's talk about this. If you are, just for example, at your job but you spend a good portion of your time on your phone, texting, looking up other things, you don't come across as an engaged employee, and your coworkers are not going to respect your work ethic very much. That can have ramifications for when you want to be promoted to a manager or get a raise or anything like that. In fact, while we're talking about work, if you are on a Teams or Zoom call, WebEx, whatever, and your video is turned off and you're not engaged verbally, I promise you the people you work with and especially the people you report to, are thinking, “this is not an engaged employee. I don't even know if they're even there, and this is not an employee who is engaged in this company at the level I would like them to be.”

Also, think about if you are with your friends and the whole time you are checking text messages from the person you're dating, or the person you're married to, or just somebody else in general. When you are talking to someone, aim to give them your entire focus. You are just with them. Now, I have been at networking events and you're like, I don't want to talk to this person anymore. I'm just going to keep looking for ways out. I'm going to give you a tip here: don't! Dedicate two to three minutes completely to that person. Just them. There's nothing else. You're learning from them or you're listening to them, whatever it is. And then excuse yourself and go to someone else. It is very rude to go look to be with someone else when you're with another person. And it doesn't make them feel good. I promise you, people will think you're more charming, more interesting and more interested if you are one-on-one with them.

That brings me to patients as well. If you're with a patient but you seem to only be looking at their chart, whether it's paper, electronic, tell them why you're looking at it. “I'm writing down some of the notes you said, I think they're important, or let me just write this down now,” whatever it is, and then go back to making eye contact with them. You actually do have a few seconds later to make some notes. I hope this helps in some way. Try it with just someone. Go out for dinner with your friend and do not check your text messages the entire night. If you must have a babysitter, tell the babysitter to use a phone call if they want to contact you, and that's the only thing you'll pick up. Just try it. I think it's a game changer, a life changer. Take care.

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