Last week I facilitated a conversation with people who were 2 hours away by airplane.  These two courageous individuals wanted to better understand what they both needed from one another and reach an agreement that enhanced their interpersonal communications.  This request flew in the face of everything that I had ever learned about communication.   Depending on the study you read up to 93% of communication is conveyed through our Non-Verbal cues such as eye contact, facial expression, body language.  How could a telephone call ever be effective in a situation like this?

I explained my reluctance to engaging in this type of conversation over the phone.  Given their financial constraints and the immediacy that this situation required, telephone facilitation was the only option that was available.   So there they were far away on the phone as I sat comfortably in my living room chair with the crisp autumn wind blowing through the open window.  Much to my surprise, the experience was  more effective and enriching than I had ever expected being.  While I couldn’t be there in person,  I experienced a new depth of mindful listening that allowed me to be very present with them.    In the last post I wrote about letting the filter or mask of our roles drop away in order to be closer to the message and to truly hear one another.  By being so far away, and on the phone, I was able to close my eyes and really absorb what was being said.  I was also able to experience  the silence and the way it was shaped by each speakers’ words and emotions.  In the darkness behind my eyes, my professional mask of helper / facilitator / mediator fell away.   I was truly mindful of the fluidity of the expanding moment we shared, all the while deeply present with them.  All of the “shoulds” that circulate in “busy mind chatter” just blew out the open window.  Words effortlessly emerged as each moment unfolded and tension released.

I still prefer  to be with “people in-person” and share important conversations like this whenever possible.  Next time I am seated with two people, I will recall the importance of being so deeply present.

I’d love to hear how you stay present.  Reply below or send me an email at peter@pacificcollaborative.com

Telephone headset