Being Present

Being Present

Commanding Attention at Work (and at Home) by Managing Your Social Presence

Jeanine W. Turner


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Survival strategies for communicating in a notification-saturated world

As our ability to pay attention in a world of distractions vanishes, it’s no wonder that our ability to be heard and understood—to convey our messages—is also threatened. Whether working with our teams and customers or communicating with our families and friends, it is increasingly difficult to break through the digital devices that get in the way of communication. And the ubiquity of digital devices means that we are often “multicommunicating,” participating in multiple conversations at once. As a result, our ability to be socially present with an audience requires an intentional approach.

This increased strain on attention has never been more clear than during the global pandemic, when our homes suddenly accommodated both work and family life. What are our options when facing professional communications at all hours? Do we ask for the technology to be put away at the dinner table? Establish other ground rules? What about using digital communications to our advantage—how can we facilitate information-sharing in the midst of a world where we are overwhelmed with content?

Drawing from fifteen years of research, interviews, and experience from teaching students and executives, Jeanine W. Turner offers a framework to navigate social presence at work and at home. By exploring four primary communication choices—budgeted, entitled, competitive, and invitational—Turner shows when and where to employ each strategy to most effectively allocate our attention and command the attention of others. Each chapter includes concrete strategies and concludes with reflection questions and exercises to help readers further explore these decisions in professional and personal relationships.


Jeanine W. Turner:

Jeanine W. Turner is a professor at Georgetown University, where she teaches in both the Communication, Culture and Technology (CCT) Program and the McDonough School of Business. For over thirty years, she has researched how we use communication technologies and how they influence our work, home, and friendships. Jeanine is an award-winning teacher and has published and presented her work nationally and internationally. She has worked within the public and private sectors, including AARP, KPMG, Microsoft, the NFL Players Association, Rolls Royce, Sprint, the US Senate, the US Department of Defense, and the World Bank. Jeanine earned her PhD at The Ohio State University and lives in Vienna, Virginia with her husband John and her three children Michael, Kate, and Andrew.