One of the most valuable things that I have learned in recent years is the importance of Presence. Presence is important for healthy friendships, healthy marriages, and successful parenting. By presence, I mean showing up both physically and emotionally. Many of us are so concerned about getting things done that we are not at all present to the people around us. But the most important thing that you bring to any relationship is your presence.
In counseling and coaching, I almost never hear a person say, “My dad just didn’t work enough.” But I constantly hear people say, “My dad was never there for me.” The person saying this means either he was not there physically or that he was unavailable emotionally.
What are the keys to presence?
1. Arrange your Life so that you are Physically Present
It might seem obvious, but friendships are built on time together. Quantity time produces quality time. You can’t be present to your kids if you work 80 hours a week. Do you spend time a good amount together as a family? Are you physically present? I have given up several hobbies so that I can be physically present with my kids for the short few years that I will have with them.
2. Productivity is the Enemy of Presence
It’s hard to be productive and present at the same time. I know that you have to mow the lawn, pay the bills, do the laundry, return thousands of emails, and finish the basement. But realize that when you are doing these things you are often not present. My wife, kids, and friends are not normally concerned with how productive I am but whether or not I am there for them.
3. Put down your iPhone and Show up Emotionally
You can be sitting in the same room with a person and not be there for them at all. Technology can be the enemy of presence. Log off of Facebook, turn off the TV, shut off your iPhone. Listen, ask questions, and make eye contact.
4. Deep Friendships are Built on Long-term Presence
It takes time to develop deep friendships. Being present in the life of a person for many years will bring depth and trust in a relationship. Be a committed friend over the long haul. Be there as a friend physically and emotionally through good times and bad. When hard times come, these kinds of friendships are immensely valuable.