A few weeks ago, I was in a professional meeting and twice the other leader smiled and said, “this is fun”. He later reiterated that he “thoroughly enjoyed” the meeting and looked forward to updates. It was good for me too and the key was, we were both present. I had scheduled a meeting with this community leader to discuss a professional growth edge. It was an area of strength for him, and I knew he could offer me some insight and different ways of approaching and adjusting my mindset. I expected the meeting to be impactful and beneficial and appreciated that we both fully brought ourselves to the discussion.
The freedom to be fully present, completely you, at work impacts your quality of life and production. Unfortunately, we often work in cultures that keep us in boxes and we feel forced to present according to someone else’s idea of who we should be or what they are able to handle. The brain chemicals that are released when we are truly present and experience fun and enjoyment charge, recharge, and energize us for our work and increases job satisfaction. Here are some things I noticed that created such a positive experience for us both.
Going into the meeting, I knew that it was possible that I had some mental blocks that interfered with my skill development in the area. I laid it all out on the table and asked for input. I shared the good, bad, and ugly of my growth edge and gave permission for someone else to shape my thoughts and behaviors in positive ways. In the same week, I said in at least 3 new professional relationships that I trusted, “make it make sense to me”. Because I am present with myself, I am aware that I have a lot of thoughts and perspectives and I want people to be real with me and challenge me if I’m not seeing what they see. Growth and change don’t have to be intimidating for us, or our teams, when we create a norm that invites being real with ourselves and others. Identify, seek, and create relationships that allow you to be real enough to get what you need to grow, and give what others need to grow as well.
The time is over for putting on faces at work. It takes a lot of energy to wear so many masks. When we are true, we have integrated all parts of ourselves and are more authentic. Not only does work become more enjoyable, but easier as well. When we are true, we show up more consistently in relationships which builds trust. It allows room for increased vulnerability and speeds up our rate of growth and development. Being true in relationships frees us to have fun, even in potentially uncomfortable conversations. We also set an example for those with whom we interact and lead. When we bring our true selves, it sets a tone and invites others to do the same. It takes out the fluff and allows us to get to the heart of the matter, where change happens. Commit to bringing all of you to your interactions.
Approaching with presence gave way for my colleague to be present, honest, and direct with me. Had I gone in withholding, he may have withheld as well or been slower to give me what I said I was seeking. Presence allows us to get our needs met in relationships. Lack of presence creates a loss of opportunity. Consider which relationships you feel free to be present in and determine what is missing from other relationships. Sometimes there’s a need for a personal change or intentionality to create that space. Other times, there’s more structural, systemic, and institutional work to be done.
You probably weren’t expecting this blog to take this turn. I wasn’t either. But since I’m being true, real, and present, I will roll with what’s coming up for me. The skills discussed in this post are necessary if we are ever going to make any true and lasting progress with race relations. I am very aware that the ease at which I implemented the skills in the meeting was impacted by the fact that my colleague is also Black. Being of the same race does not always lend itself to these kinds of interactions but it can increase healthy risk-taking behaviors. This was only the second time we had sat down to talk, but my prior experience was such that I believed enough of who he was had showed up in the first interaction and in the community, to make it feel I was in a safe space to dive right in. We only use these skills when the environment supports their use. Being true, real, and present in cross-cultural interactions allows for the positive and fruitful relationships we all want and need.
Call to Presence Make the following commitments to yourself and map a plan to get results.
Bring your whole self to interactions – be true, real, and present.
Be mindful of your reactions to others and allow space for others to be true, real, and present with you. Also, reinforce the behavior you want to see.
Create a culture of healthy risk-taking in personal and professional relationships.
Presence is a learned skill and the Presence Formula can help you get there. Download the free guide to learn this repeatable 4 step process to increase your presence. You'll receive new blog posts right in your inbox. Contact us for a personalized Presence experience.
Licensed Psychologist, Executive Coach, Speaker
Dr. Leatrice positions organizations to maximize productivity, master collaboration and teamwork,
and retain high achievers.
“Great Things Happen When You’re Present”
© 2022, Dr. Leatrice R. Brooks