Ever been shopping and had one of those salesperson encounters where you wanted to wave your hand in front of the other person’s eyes and say “Hello…. anybody there?” Ever been at a party chatting with someone only to discover they’re scanning the room looking for anyone else to talk to (a phenomenon called Cocktail Party Eyes)?
If you’ve had either (or both) of these experiences, you know how it makes you feel: ignored, devalued, unimportant. Doesn’t feel so good, huh? Look at this situation in reverse and ask yourself these questions: Am I making people feel ignored, devalued and unimportant? Am I no better than the last salesperson or cocktail party schmoozer? If you’re beginning to wonder, read on.
I believe, and I’m serious here, that the answer to happiness is the moment. It’s also the key to great sales, fantastic customer service, making friends, delivering the awesome presentation, and relationships. If we could simply be in each moment of our lives without lamenting yesterday or fearing tomorrow, we would be free to focus on whatever is in front of us at any time.
Dr. James Loehr taught me about the moment at a track and field clinic back in 1983. His observation was that the greatest athletes in the world had the ability to seize the moment, have their play become almost automatic and achieve peak performance (that’s the short version).
The phrase Loehr used that captivated me then and still drives how I wish to be, was this one: “I am best when I savor the moment, when I am right here, right now, loving every minute of it.” Please note the two key words: savor, moment.
It’s not easy to savor a moment. It’s not easy to be only doing precisely what you are doing at any given moment.
The past often rears its ugly face. “If only I hadn’t done that, I should have done this another way, I coulda, shoulda, woulda…” Then there is the nasty future. “If only I could…. but what if I….” As mentioned, it’s not easy. The reward, however, is worth the work.
Sometimes it it easy to be in the moment. The rush of meeting someone exciting, doing something you love, or simply that second when you are absolutely fascinated by someone or something are the easy times. Most of life’s experiences are more ordinary. Most of those other people on the planet aren’t that fascinating. Or are they? Maybe any particular moment can be incredible if we just let it.
There are five easy ways to focus on your ability to be in the moment. Here they are…
1. Focus. Really zoom in on the other person. The easiest way to begin this process is with eye contact. We’re not talking stare-down here, we’re focusing on attentiveness through the eyes. To avoid staring, break contact every so often by looking up or off to the side like you’re thinking of something they said. If someone’s eyes are the window to their soul, that window only works if you are looking into it.
2. Listen. I was told once that too many people listen for the wrong reason. We tend to listen with the intent to decide what it is we are going to say next, instead of listening with the intent to understand. Eye contact will help you listen. Better than that, however, is interest. We listen more when we’re interested in what is being said. So create interest. Try to understand what is being said and look for ways to be helpful (sometimes just the act of listening is helpful enough).
3. React responsively. There is a natural ebb and flow to most real conversations. Good listeners know when to respond and are able to keep their responses relevant to the conversation. If you’re really listening well, focusing on the other person and not drifting off, it’s easier to respond in ways that enhance the moment.
4. Be Other Oriented. I have to confess, I like me. I could listen to me for hours and hours (and I often do). The best way to another person’s good graces, affection or business, however, is to be about them. An endless stream of customer service books has told us that the key to serving the customer is to be into the customer. It has to be all about them. Imagine if we transferred this orientation to our partners, spouses, kids, friends.
5. Love. The Beatles sang, “All you need is love,” and they were correct. Love other people, love getting to know someone better, love serving and helping others.
The moment takes some work. The benefits will far exceed the effort, however. People will want to be with you, want to do business with you, want to share with you.
You’ll now it when it’s happening. Those times when you’re right here, right now, loving every minute of it. It feels good.