Being present – a way to walk into a room
Being Present #3
Written by – Trevor Hayley
At Adelaide Memorials Online, we believe being absolutely present with grieving families is at the very core of what we do. No two families are the same, and what is important and valuable to one, may not be to another. I suppose this is what makes us unique, and keeps life interesting.
In this time of social distancing, is certainly not the time to be going to parties or networking events. Despite the protests going on at the moment, it certainly makes sense to follow what the professionals are saying. We will have to wait and see what the future holds.
But in this time of isolation, it perhaps gives an opportunity to reflect on how we are as a person, when, and if, the gatherings start up again. Will we go to these events, trying our best to be the centre of attention, commanding conversation, and generally getting as much out of the event as possible? Maybe a little self centred. In a small place like Adelaide, these people quickly get caught out, as perhaps not being authentic.
Is there another way?
What about instead of looking at an event as something to get, look at it as something to give. To be present. Instead of the primary goal being to talk, maybe it is about listening. You know, at most events, there will be someone feeling uncomfortable. They may even wish to be a talker, witty and clever, but they just don’t have the ability, and it feels rather awkward. So they stand on the edge, and ‘look in’ to the groups talking, they may even struggle to find a ‘way in’ and so may stay for a while and then leave, wondering why they went in the first place.
A present person, when they walk into a room, will scan for such people, take note, and then in a quite natural way strike up a conversation, maybe involving them in a bigger group. The person, who would normally stand on the outer, will find themselves included and a part of things. They then may stay a little longer, and leave with a smile on their face. This is the practical difference, being present can make.
Of course, if everyone were listeners, and there were no talkers, events would be rather boring. Events need interaction through which people engage. I suppose, all I am proposing is be inclusive in your conversation. Those who can ‘talk’ are so lucky, but with this, perhaps lies an opportunity to involve more people. After all, as a talker, you attract people, and so use this ‘power’ to bring the more shy people into conversation. You will feel so glad and warm inside because you did.
I remember being with a reserved young man, who had been invited to a large 600 person gathering. We were talking before about how such events normally work. It goes something like, find a group, and eventually someone will say hello. His response was “well what do I say then?” to which I replied “maybe ask what brings you here?”
So there we were standing on the edge of 600 people ‘looking in’ until at one point he said “should we go in?” So we did, we found a group, and sure enough he became engaged in a conversation for at least ten minutes. He did not think he was capable of intelligent conversation, but he discovered, maybe this was not the case. On the way home he was buzzing, excited, and had ‘grown taller.’ It ended up being a life changing experience, just through someone being present.
Maybe when the restrictions lift, instead of coming out with ‘both guns blazing’ come out with ‘both ears listening’ and see the empowering and positive difference you make in the world.
Presence is a way of life.
This commentary in this blog is intended to be general in nature. It is just some observations from one fellow traveller in life to another. If anything in this blog raises issues for you, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or consult with a trusted medical professional.