What is one Christmas gift that will cost you nothing, yet still require everything?
Being fully present to the important people in your life.
One of the most meaningful Christmas gifts that you can give a person this year is being fully present when you are with them. We live in a society where people compete with electronics 24/7, 365 days a year.
It is crazy when you think about it. We have created these electronic devices to enrich our lives, yet think of how much it has cost you in other areas?
It has cost you giving your child 100% of your attention while he is working on his homework in the evening.
It has cost you having a meaningful conversation with a friend while you keep checking your phone at a restaurant.
It has cost you precious moments with your husband or wife while you are driving together in the car.
It has cost you hearing your loved one’s joys and triumphs when you eat dinner with devices lined up next to the silverware.
It has cost you a business deal because your potential client saw your lack of attention in the meeting and (rightly) assumed that it could transcend to your work on his project, too.
These are moments that you will never recapture again. When your son has gone off to college, you will remember those moments when he needed help with his phonics. You will never remember the text message that distracted you.
When your friends get job transfers and move to other states, you will miss those afternoons of enjoying a meal together. You’ll never remember the Facebook posts you were distracted by while waiting for your food.
You may get other clients, but they may be the type of client who does not care if you give them 50% instead of 100%. They will give you 50% of what you are worth, too.
I love technology. I value being connected. But so much more than that, I value personal interaction. It did not take many months after leaving Facebook to realize just who my “friends” really were. It wasn’t the people I could always count on for a LIKE or a witty comment. It was the people who may or may not have been on Facebook. The ones who would pick up the phone and say, “I’ve got a free evening, let’s do dinner”.
These are the types of relationships we all treasure. These are the people that we long to sit down with for an hour…or two…or three because we know that they care enough to be fully present.
A person like that gives us the gift of their presence. It is the subtly unsaid, yet powerful reassurance that we matter. That they care about us. And that they care enough to let whatever non-emergency call, notification, message, post, or photo wait because . . . well, because we matter more.
These are the people who have inspired me to give that gift of being fully present, not just at Christmas, but all through the year. I have a long way to improve, but I have a note on my desk that reminds me that I am striving to be fully present. It does not matter who I am with or where I am. If that person cares enough about me to give me their time, the very least I can do is give them mine.
This year, my challenge to all of us is to be fully present. Make that commitment and stick with it. None of us would intentionally hurt or damage our loved ones. But we do it all the time unconsciously with these little plastic devices that can often run—and ruin—our lives.
Look for practical ways to start being fully present. Your body language telegraphs loud and clear how much you value that person’s presence. Look the person you are talking to in the eye and lean forward with an eager and undistracted gaze. Listen to them so well that you can even repeat back key phrases you heard when you respond.
The simple motion of turning over your phone, silencing it, or putting it away speaks volumes. If you are sitting down for a meeting, one of the most powerful first impressions you can make is to turn the volume off on your phone and put it away. Being fully present silently communicates that you care enough about them, their needs, and their time to shut out everything else.
It is time to stop making people feel like an interesting interlude between your phone calls, social media updates, chats, and texts. Unless it is an emergency—and 99.9% of the time it never is—a live person in front of you should never compete with what’s going on in the life of a person miles away on a device.
There is an old saying that love is not spelled l-o-v-e. As the saying goes, love is spelled t-i-m-e. Time is the greatest commodity we have, worth far more than even Facebook’s 245 billion dollar value.
This Christmas add another present under the tree. It will not cost you a penny, but it will cost you everything else that captures your attention. Give the gift that will last much longer than that popular Facebook meme all your friends are sharing.
Give the gift of you.
Aaress Lawless has ten years of experience working in the field of PR, and has been cited by many leading outlets including Microsoft, The New York Times, and CNET. Aaress is dedicated to helping you put God first in your business and will work with you to craft a public relations or web design approach best suited to your unique needs.
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