“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” — Thich Nhat Hanh

When we hear the word “gift,” what first comes to mind is often a box wrapped in paper with a nice bow on it. Most of us have been conditioned to think that gifts are physical items, which in fact, couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Real gifts are genuine expressions of love, kindness, and generosity. And it doesn’t necessarily need to come in the form of a physical item.

Here are four ways you can give the gift of your own presence to your friends, relatives, coworkers, and even new people. Offering your presence as a gift to people more often will help to transform your relationships with them for the better.

Put Down Your Smartphone

There isn’t a single human being on this planet who can be one hundred percent present with someone while they’re staring down at their smartphone. By engaging in conversation with another person while messing around on your phone at the same time, you’re forced to split your attention into two parts in an attempt to multitask, which the human brain is not designed to do.

Practice putting away your smartphone whenever you’re having a face to face conversation with somebody. By keeping your phone out of sight and out of mind the whole way through, you automatically show people that you respect them.

Don’t Think — Just Listen

It can be tricky not to get caught up in your own thinking when listening to a long story or a detailed opinion from somebody else. What they say might trigger memories you’ve had, opinions that you just became aware of, ideas you want to share, or future events that may happen.

Even while appearing attentive, your own thoughts might carry you away, causing you to completely zone out. You may be physically there, but mentally, you’re not. Make sure you notice yourself getting lost in thought so you can bring your attention back to the person you’re interacting with.

Put Your Ego Aside

If you’re not careful with being mindful of how your thoughts completely hijack your awareness during a conversation or any type of interaction with another person, you could easily get swept up in your own self-centred views and beliefs. You may in fact feel inclined to interrupt the other person with an objection or counterargument before allowing them to fully express what they want to express.

Again, the key here is becoming mindful enough of thoughts before they overtake your actions. Working on becoming a more open-minded individual will also help you stay more curious about what other people have to say, which will naturally help to reduce your desire to interrupt.

Use Your Body Language

When it comes to giving someone else your presence, body language is everything. People can tell when you’re not interested in what they’re saying or when you’ve completely lost yourself to the thoughts that are going through your own head.

Practice smiling when something seems funny or agreeable, raising your eyebrows and widening your eyes when something seems intriguing, and turning your front body toward the other person in a way that shows you’re listening to them. It’s little signs like these that tell the other person that you’re listening, and you intend to give them your full attention.

Make a habit out of this and you should start to earn more respect, kindness, and love back from everyone you interact with. Presence truly is the gift that keeps on giving!