Be Here Now

Rosanna Machado | June 9, 2020

I only had to watch my attempt the other day to run and chat to know that multitasking leads to a drop in productivity – both my level of banter and quality of running suffered significantly! Yet in recent years, it feels like it has become a badge of honour to say how busy we are. In the last 18 months as I chose to develop some new strands of business, this involved time out from delivering and I often felt as if I was being judged for slowing down to think about where I wanted to be.

The pandemic has been an opportunity for many of us to refocus and re-evaluate, with a change in pace and enforced time at home. For me, it has also coincided with time studying for my coaching diploma. During our coaching practice, we were advised to avoid note-taking and instead give our client our full attention. I realised how much of a comfort blanket it is to take notes, so this felt very exposing. However, when I did actively listen and give someone my full attention, it was a much more meaningful exchange. I could not only pick up on language, but also intonation, pace, body language and my own emotional reaction to what was being said.

It’s a similar thing when watching a programme with subtitles. Whilst it feels like harder work, it does force you to put your phone down and focus on the programme without distractions and I find I am more absorbed and get more from it. On the flip side, when I want the TV as background to carrying out chores, then something like Columbo is ideal as you already know who the murderer is, so there is very little commitment required!

The next time you are speaking to a family member, friend or colleague, think about how you can commit to the exchange

  • Give yourself a moment to prepare and clear your mind
  • Put your phone away, turn off notifications and emails so that you can focus
  • Slow down and go with the natural flow of the conversation
  • Trust yourself to be in the moment and to know what to do
  • Ask lots of open-ended questions
  • Resist the urge to always relate what is said to your own experiences – sometimes there is more power in allowing someone to share and to listen without judgement or advice
  • React to what you hear. Asking someone how they are and finding out it’s tough will influence where you take the conversation
  • If you can’t give someone your full attention, let them know and suggest an alternative time

At the heart of coaching, is the focus on your client. I love this concept of going into exchanges and thinking it’s not about me. It allows you to go in with a more generous outlook, to understand what’s going on and get in tune with someone. You may need to commit more time to it but for me the pay-off is worth it – stronger relationships and feeling energised by deeper conversations.