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  • Maria Teresa Shephard

Professional Presence


I was recently asked, “How does minimalism go beyond the tangible?” That’s a fantastic question. Minimalism finds its roots in the psychological - we see evidence of intention, or lack thereof, in our behaviors. This then pervades our physical world, thus the saying, “Your excess is a direct reflection of your dissatisfaction.”

This is not exclusive to our personal lives.

Have you ever met those folks at work who are in the middle of conversing with you as you watch their eyes scan the room around you?

Are they even listening? Are they running on work-scripts? What’s actually going on here? It seems we have what I call “Mindless Meeters”. These people lack professional presence. Their approach to interacting is palpably disingenuous even if that’s not their intention.

Perhaps that’s the root issue - they are not intentional.

So how do we avoid lacking professional presence?

  1. Stay off your devices when interacting.

  2. Give eye contact when speaking and hearing.

  3. Pause before talking - listen to understand, not to respond.

It’s truly that simple.

Let’s not overcomplicate something that can be one of the most enjoyable things we do: make and maintain connections.

So, yes, it’s nice to be greeted. Yes, it’s nice to be acknowledged. Yes, it’s nice to chat.

But if you’re not present in the interaction, people will see this.

This week, try one of the above listed items. When you see yourself mastering that particular active listening skill, move on to the next, and then the next, until you can objectively observe yourself being completely present during work chats.

You’ll see that your coworkers start chatting with you more frequently and genuinely.

Feels good, right?


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