Being present is the perfect gift for the holidays. All it costs is your time.
The Oxford Dictionary defines presence as, “The state or fact of existing, occurring, or being present in a place or thing.”
With all the bustle of the holidays, shopping for the perfect present takes us to crowded malls, forces us into traffic jams, and costs us a hefty part of our paychecks.
According to the 31st annual survey on holiday spending by the American Research Group, Inc., U.S. shoppers plan to spend an average of $882 for gifts this holiday season, up from $861 last year.
And yet, are we missing something?
Communication is the foundation upon which we build our lives. Taking the time to “be there” is one of the keys to building healthy relationships, and the only cost is our time.
Everyone needs someone to talk to, especially during the holidays. Tucked behind all of the glitter and dazzle of the season are emotions like sadness, loneliness, stress, and confusion.
Just being there, and actively listening to another person, provides the best present of all. When we listen actively we are focused only on the speaker. We are giving them a safe environment to share their emotions without judgment.
When using active listening, these are the steps I recommend:
- Find a place where you and the speaker have no distractions.
- Focus attentively on the speaker in a casual manner.
- Be aware of the speaker’s nonverbal signals and what messages they are sending.
- Listen without interrupting or imposing your opinions.
- Keep the focus on the speaker and resist the urge to share your own experiences.
- Paraphrase back to the speaker what was said to indicate you are listening.
- Ask open-ended questions to encourage the speaker to elaborate.
- Provide short encouraging remarks like, “I understand,” to keep the speaker engaged.
- Continue the process until the speaker finishes.
Wikipedia states this process in its model of active listening.
Active listening is a tool you can use throughout the year to build healthy relationships. As William Penn, the founder of Pennsylvania said:
“I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”
I hope these tips will help you harness the power of presence!