Transform a Relationship, Be Fully Present

People need to be understood that they matter. We are wired to belong. It doesn’t matter if it is your spouse, child, employee or coworker every relationship you wish to maintain requires your attention. Most people consider attention to be measured in time. Time is in short supply and high demand in our connected and fast paced world.

What if people don’t really want our attention, but rather want our presence? If you jump up and down and start screaming, you will get peoples attention. Go ahead try it right now. Go into a room with other people and fire up your most obnoxious self. You will get someone’s attention. Satisfied? Probably not. Because it is not attention we crave, but rather deep personal interaction with other humans requiring them to be fully present.

Have you ever gotten upset when someone is texting on their phone or watching TV when you are trying to talk to them? It probably gets under your skin because you realize they are not fully present. Even if they are hearing your every word and responding, you don’t have ALL of them. Sometimes getting part of someone for a long period of time can satisfy our need for personal connection, but it is a poor use of a valuable resource, time.

Luckily, presence doesn’t have to be time it can be depth. I challenge you spend as little as 15 minutes with someone and be FULLY engaged and present with them. Completely immersed and focused on them. It doesn’t matter if they are three or ninety three you will see the impact immediately. Having the full presence of someone has become so rare for most, that providing it even in small amounts can completely transform a relationship.

So go find someone and be fully present with them today.  I dare you.


  1. Derek, this post is a gasp of fresh air into a world (I mostly think about work world, but it could apply to many other containers) engrossed with the smokes of the economy of attention. The point of view you take can be the starting point of many powerful changes : changes for more presence in my team, more presence in my personal relationships, and more presence all over the word, via “presenceware”, maybe.

    I do spend time with friends being fully present, although too infrequently for my taste. I’m not sure I’ll manage to do that today, but it is worth trying. Thanks!

  2. Nice. Reminds me of what Desmond Tutu said about the word “Ubuntu” (not the linux distro!)

    “One of the sayings in our country is Ubuntu – the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can’t exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can’t be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity.”

    Derek – thank you for this challenge to be present with others.

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