The Pitfalls of Not Being Present

Published on 12/02/2020


Is there anything more annoying than speaking to someone who is clearly not listening?

You can tell this because they’re just not present in the room mentally. They’re there in person, of course, but you can see that they’ve switched off at some point during the conversation and they’re just allowing the words to float in and out of their brain, without paying any attention to their meaning.

This is called not being present, and it’s one of the biggest issues in the modern-day.


Because we’re all so obsessed with checking our phones, that’s why!

It’s also because we have a million and one demands on our time that it’s very easy to start thinking about the list of things you need to do, and as a result you forget yourself. 

In any part of life, it’s important to be present. Living in the present day is far more valuable than living in the past or in the future, but it’s actually harder than the other two options. 

When it comes to effective communication, being present in the moment is vital and one of the most important facets of the entire subject. It’s very easy to notice when someone simply isn’t present and its extremely frustrating for the person who is trying to explain something or speak. 

Let’s suppose you were sat around the modern boardroom tables, trying to collaborate and come up with a creative solution to a problem that is currently affecting the office. There are five of you sat there, and whilst four are discussing the problem, one other employee isn’t contributing, simply because they’re staring into space. 

How do you think the other four take this?


Teamwork is affected by not being present in the moment and over time it can easily start to cause disengagement of employees too. 

If you’re speaking to a customer and you act in this way, how do you think they will react? They will be understandably quite annoyed that you’re not paying them any attention and as a result, they’ll take their business elsewhere, to one of your competitors who try and show their customers that they’re listening to their needs. 

It’s not good for business, that’s for sure. 

So, how can you avoid this and ensure that you’re present in the moment at all times?

By being mindful, that’s how. 

Learn to notice when your mind is drifting and pull yourself back. Some people find it useful to wear an elastic band on their wrist (make sure it’s loose, however, and not tight) and when they feel like they’re drifting attention-wise, they snap it, to bring themselves back to the moment.

You should also stow away your mobile phone until lunchtime and avoid checking it every five minutes. Many businesses actually ask their employees to keep their phones off their desks nowadays, but if yours doesn’t fall into that rule bracket, put it into your drawer and avoid checking it on a regular basis. This means you’ll be more productive, less distracted and therefore able to communicate in the moment, rather than allowing people to think that your attention is firmly elsewhere. 

Once you learn how to recognise your bad habits and you underhand how not being present in the centre of a conversation is damaging on many levels, you’ll find it easier to avoid. The effectiveness of teamwork and team spirit relies upon everyone being present, taking responsibility and contributing equally; if you’re not able to stay in the moment, it basically means that you’re not able to communicate in a strong and effective way.

Of course, sometimes things happen in life which take our attention an cause us to worry. This is a normal part of life and something which can’t be avoided, however, it’s not something which should happen on a regular basis. There is a very big difference between allowing worry to bother you occasionally, and simply not being present for big conversations. 

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