Presence, what is that?

Thursday, April 13, 2017

When I meet people socially one of the most frequently asked question is “What do you do”?  Initially, I try to keep it brief saying I am in business and a Coach - Trainer.  Out of curiosity, a few ask me some more questions and I am most happy to share.  Amongst other things when I say I also coach professionals on their presence it draws blank looks.  This is usually followed by a conversation where I try and explain what it means.  These questions have helped me get clarity about my meaning of the term and I have also learnt different ways of explaining it.

“Having a presence” has been expressed in different ways. Few definitions mention it as a blend of poise, confidence, gravitas and good communication skills. Some define it as a combination of our external behaviours or an ability to manage perceptions. What do you say? What is your understanding of the term?

My meaning of Presence:

Have you noticed that in your monthly meeting with colleagues and bosses you are more aware of some people in the room? You see all of them but your attention is drawn to only a few.  Out of them, there may be those who bother you for some reason and let’s leave them aside for a moment. Now notice, without intending there is this one person or a couple of them whom you seem to keep looking at again and again. When they speak or present you seem to listen better, or each time a question is asked you look at them from the corner of your eye to know their response. Knowing they are going to be around for occasions or any meeting makes you feel reassured and comfortable unknowingly. You observe and try to learn from them. It feels like you can be yourself when you interact with them. That’s someone with a Presence!

Now there is this other person or few of them whom you know.  They are extremely skilled, knowledgeable and intelligent professionals who maybe have a great sense of humour too. While they have a personality that draws attention, you feel an unexplained uneasiness while speaking to them. They always seem to have the right things to say to you but it’s almost like they are surfing on the waves, smooth yet superficial. You cannot help but notice a hint of criticism in their voice when they speak and how each conversation ultimately belongs to them. They make their best effort to be likeable. Very notable personalities, but you don’t feel any connection.

So are they charming and impressive? Yes, but do they have a presence? I don’t think so. When someone is trying too hard or too full of themselves they would qualify more as reputation builders.

People can come alive in your presence or feel crushed. What do you choose?

Your Presence is attributed to how people experience you. How you make other people feel when you are with them, how they experience your energy and how they see themselves while they are in your company. It is shaped by your ability to be present with people in every moment while being guided by your sense of purpose and intention. It’s formed by how you connect and communicate with people while being aware of their understanding or expectations.  It is sensed by others when you express yourself completely while feeling secure from the inside.

Your Presence is,

- Less about charm and more about grace

- Less about superb vocabulary and more about the genuine emotion in your voice

- Less about that suit and more about your pleasant look

- Not about pretending to hear but allowing your body to listen

- Not about perfection but acknowledging and apologising when at fault

- Not about being goody-goody but responsible

- Not about excuses but about keeping your word

It is more about being comfortable and secure with who we are and not feeling the need to demonstrate anything. It is about being consciously aware of our intent in each moment and flowing in genuinely.

Why is Presence Important at work?

As a professional would you like if your colleagues and management trusted you? Customers admired you? And your team gave a sincere ear and sufficient thought to your ideas while you spoke? We all would like that. Won’t we? Being acknowledged and appreciated at work is what we all would like and building a strong presence is one way to be noticed.

As professionals, if you want to be successful or get better opportunities I believe working on your presence would be far more helpful than hoping to create a good impression. People will keep judging and scoring us whereas all we want is opportunities, growth in the workplace and fulfilling relations. Having a presence may not be a prerequisite for professional success but it certainly is the right step towards getting that opportunity to be successful, stand out and have pleasant relations at the office. The good news is that we can all have it if we work towards it. It has to be created each day with a readiness to grow with every moment through the day.

The Presence of a person is mostly referred, spoken and explained in terms of certain behaviours people do, but presence is not seen. Just because you see a person does not mean he has it. Presence is felt and that feeling is impossible to define!

“Presence is more than just being there” Malcom Forbes

Till we meet next :)

Think deep, live the moment!