“The greatest gift you can give somebody is your attention because your attention is your time, and your time is your life,” author Rick Warren says. “You’re never going to get it back, and that’s why it is so precious when you give it.”
We find meaning and closeness in recognizing each other’s important moments. And that’s pretty hard to do when our attention is somewhere else.
In the middle of our busy schedules, how can we lock in and be present? Here are four tips for how to be present in the relationships in your life that matter most.
1. Create at least one ritual that focuses your attention.
Maybe it could be leaving your phone off or face down to bring your focus to the person nearby. Or make your screen saver a reminder to be present with people, not technology.
My daughter Kate, an early riser, knows that she has her mom all to herself in those first moments of the day because that’s our ritual. I signal to her that I’m truly present by closing my laptop screen when she comes downstairs. The emails can wait, and the simple gesture sends her the message that she is my priority and that I value our morning time together above anything else.
2. Prioritize face time.
Listen with your eyes, not just your ears. Make eye contact and give feedback. Take notes if appropriate. Reflect on a time when you felt truly heard—how did the listener communicate that? Can you begin practicing that habit?
3. Recognize important moments.
When a family member, client or someone significant to you shares an event that has great meaning to them, make a note to recognize that. Great relationships, like major personal achievements, result from consistently recognizing and appreciating the power of small moments.
I learned this as a sports agent when I recruited major league baseball player Mark DeRosa partly by understanding his important moment: a celebration at his high school when his football jersey got retired and he was playing pro baseball (he had been drafted by teams in both pro sports).
4. “Be where your feet are.”
These are the words of Alabama football coach Nick Saban, who credits his teams’ long tradition of success with the ability to lock in and be present, focusing on what they can control.
I vividly remember learning I was pregnant with twins shortly after the birth of my first daughter. It was such an emotional moment and such big news to take in, but I had a meeting in 30 minutes with a coach I represented at the time as his agent. He was going through some big changes of his own, so for that next hour, he was my priority. I needed to show up and be present in that meeting, no matter how distracted I may have been just minutes before. I re-focused and for the next hour was intentional about staying present in the moment.
Your Game Changer Takeaway
You can’t fake attention. You can’t simply talk about doing it. You have to give it consistently and authentically if you want to build great relationships. What ritual or new behavior can you start today to direct your attention to the people who matter most to you? It may be the greatest gift you can give them.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to kick-start growth. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. Her company’s Game Changer Negotiation Training workshops teach business people the framework for successful negotiating, so that you can close more deals while building stronger relationships. Sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter and subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast on iTunes.