Are you awake? After Stopping and Noticing, a third behavior that I emphasize for leaders is going All-In. For me that means being fully present in the moment. The Sisters of Mercy had as a charism, Presence which we can all aspire to. It involves much more than doing what the text books on communication describe like maintaining eye contact, acknowledging with ‘uh huh’ and the like. There’s nothing wrong with those things but being All-In begins with a decision to dedicate every ounce of yourself to every interaction you have. Tuning out distractions is important and anticipating what those distractions may be in order to consciously enter the moment should happen in advance of going All-In.
Maybe it helps to use more familiar language, like paying attention to what is before us at the moment. This is the heart and soul of the gift of Stopping. It is, says David Kundtz, “the trait that defines the Stopped person as aware of what is going on right now.”
Apply this idea to something that happens to most of us who work a Monday through Friday job. I’ll call it the Monday morning mantra and it goes something like this:
Worker 1: “Good morning!”
Worker 2:“Good morning.”
Worker 1:“How was your weekend?”
Worker 2:“Nice. We went to the lake and it was beautiful.”
Worker 1:“Great. We are going to Singapore next month. It’s going to be the trip of a lifetime. Here, let me show you our itinerary…”
This simple example highlights a type of distraction; we’ll call it ‘one-upsmanship,’ that any of us might fall prey to. Being all in—paying attention—involves respecting another enough to stay with them in the conversation. It means not being busy trying to figure out how I can steer the exchange in a direction that makes it about me. Effective listening is the result of developing openness to really hearing the other person. Instead of thinking of what you are going to say in response as someone speaks to me, I listen and am receptive to the other person. I take in consciously what they say and how they say it. In this way, I am much more likely to respond in a manner that affirms and encourages.
Considering the fact that many of the conversations we have at work and home have far more import than the Monday morning mantra, the ante is upped considerably and the degree of presence that we demonstrate will make a huge difference in the outcome.
Try going All-In, today. See if it doesn’t make a positive difference in the lives of those you care about.