By Susan Begeman Steiner
Ever heard someone say about a charismatic person, “When he talks to you, he makes you feel as if you are the only person in the universe.” These charismatic people have a “presence” that is felt by others. They pay complete attention to the person they are with in the moment. And they make a great, sometimes unforgettable, impact on others.
How do they do it? Is one born with this ability or can one develop it?
Let’s assume that whatever “person-ability” you were born with CAN be developed to the level where someone would feel that they have your undivided, precious attention.
Think of Attention as a commodity or resource. When you are being “present,” you are fully giving your attention. You have a certain amount of Attention and you give it to something every moment you are awake -- like when you are learning something new or watching a TV show or talking to a friend or worrying about the future. You are always giving your attention to something.
To consciously give all of your attention to another person requires some discipline at first. Here are some suggestions to experiment with next time you are having a conversation with your child, parent, colleague, client or friend.
1. Slow down – Being present with someone requires that you shift to his tempo instead of your own. This usually feels like slowing down.
2. Face the person – Don’t sit sideways in your chair; move around until you are looking right at the person and your whole body is facing him.
3. Drop your own agenda – If you are thinking about what you want to say or get from the conversation, you will not have the bandwidth to be completely present.
4. Pay complete attention to the person – close your computer, look directly at her and avoid looking at your wristwatch, iPhone or at others in the room.
5. Listen out of curiosity – Your natural curiosity will lead you to the right questions to ask and will be felt by the other person. Or just listen without saying anything and see what happens.
The more special and worthy-of-attention you make others feel, the more of an impact you can have in your work and your personal life.
The moment one gives close attention to any thing, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself.
-- Henry Miller