Give Presence

11065882_mEvery Monday night, my wife and I go on a date night. One of the biggest challenges I find as a male is to be present. My wife Sarah (who is 33 weeks pregnant) will be sitting across the table from me, sharing her heart, and I’ll be looking into her eyes, but in my head, I don’t hear a word she’s saying. I’m thinking about something else.

All of a sudden, she looks across at me and says, “Colin, I feel like you’re not listening to me.”

Now, I don’t know if this is a male thing but I think that as leaders, we must learn to be more present. The truth is, there’s no such thing as ‘the future’; there is only the present. The only place that we can impact or make changes in, is in the present. Presence puts emotional money in the bank account of the listeners.

The first characteristic of relational leadership is the ability to be present. When you’re in a meeting, as a leader, you must learn how to be present and truly listening to your colleagues.

Presence cannot be faked, that’s the funny thing. If you’re faking it, there will be a millisecond delay in your response or reaction. People will subconsciously pick up on this and feel like you’re not truly listening to them.

Here are 5 tips on how to become more present:

  1. Clear your mind. Imagine that your mind is like a blank canvas. When you head into the conversation, forget all of the things that you were thinking of, and realise that the only thing that you can change or impact is the present conversation. So if you need to write something down, write down everything that you need to remember and try not to keep it in your head.
  1. Lean in. Physically show that you are interested in them by leaning forward slightly.
  1. Eye contact. Look them in the eye. And Don’t look at their eyes, look into their eyes. Look deeper.
  1. Feel your toes. Olivia Cabane, who authored the book The Charisma Myth, talked about feeling your toes and feeling the air go through your nostrils. This will actually help to make you more present. Noticing the feeling in your toes is something that will distract you from your ‘head thoughts.’
  1. Open your mouth. Slightly open your mouth when you’re listening to someone. One of my friends and thought-leaders, Nils Vesk, shared with me this great tip. When your mouth is open, it’s a constant reminder for you to listen rather than be thinking about something else.

At this time of year for Christmas, give presence (pun intended).




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  • Keith Silans
    Posted at 02:17h, 11 December Reply

    Great tip about opening your mouth. Will give that a try.

    Congrats to the soon-to-be dad!

  • Abdul A.
    Posted at 05:47h, 11 December Reply

    Hey Colin, nice tips and congratulations on the pregnancy 🙂
    What would you suggest to those of us who still can’t get that presence and focus due to family and work loads – ie. having way too much on the mind?

    • Colin Boyd
      Posted at 02:11h, 13 December Reply

      Hi Abdul,

      Thanks for the comment and question.

      It sounds like you have a lot on. When we have significant commitments and complexities happening in our worlds, we reach a state of heightened stress. What I would suggest is making sure that you have time to stop and breathe in your day. Sometimes people do yoga or any sort of exercise that helps to get you out of your adrenaline state. I’ve found that yoga is a good one.

      I hope that helps, especially in the more dramatic situations like you’re facing.


  • Samantha
    Posted at 16:47h, 11 December Reply

    Hey Colin,
    Great piece, thanks.
    Congratulations on your upcoming baby. Loved the video. Really happy for you and wish you all the best.

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