Being present is the greatest gift you can give yourself and others. And yet in this world of multi-tasking and constant connectedness with people are we really present anywhere? Most of the time we are not and this is one of the main sources of unhappiness experienced.
There have been a few people with whom I thought I had a very close relationship. However, whenever I met these people in person, I could barely hold a conversation with them. This was because they were busy doing something else--such as working on their computer or messaging on their handphones. As I thought deeply into why I seemed to think I was close to them when they were actually so non-communicative in person, I realized that the "closeness" I experienced with them was when I spoke to them on the phone or chatted with them online.
When you speak to someone on the phone your entire attention is focused on the conversation (atleast most of the time). This gives the person at the end that feeling of "exclusivity" that is needed for a relationship to grow and sustain itself. The person you are speaking to becomes an important person to whom you give your undivided attention. Every relationship requires this nurturance.
Online chats give this illusion of exclusiveness. It is an illusion because one can never be sure who exactly it is at the other end of the chat--you may be thinking it is your friend but the other could be their spouse or child or just anyone. But however, it does give that feeling of "exclusivity" that is needed in a relationship.
It is important for us to realize this when we are communicating with people. When someone speaks to us, we need to be attentive, we need to listen to what they are saying. He/she is the most important person who has called for your attention. You may want to do something else and that could be an important thing. If that is so, communicate to the individual--ask for time--that you would finish the most important, pressing commitment you have and will be engaged with the person soon after.
Giving your presence is so important in relationships--in any reciprocal relationship. A student in class with a teacher, a teacher with a student; a boss and an employee and the reverse--employee and boss, husband and wife or parent and child and also in friendships.
It all begins with an ability to connect with oneself. Connection with oneself helps us connect with others. Being present with oneself helps us in being present with others. Which is why it is so important for one to take a few minutes ( I take one hour in the morning and one hour in the evening) to be with our breath and understand and connect with our inner world. This practice helps us be present, attentive and engaged with people whom we interact with--particularly when they are physically present in front of you.
This brings about richness and satisfaction in being alive together in this wonderful world.