Being Present

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

Jeanine W. Turner

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Gold Medal – Networking, Social Media, and Communication – Axiom Business Book Awards, 2022
JP Morgan Summer Reading List 2022

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.

Table of Contents


Introduction: What Does Social Presence Mean and Why Should You Care About It?

Part I. Paying Some Attention, Screens On: Budgeted Presence

1. Budgeted Presence in the Workplace

2. Budgeted Presence Outside the Workplace

Part II. “Turn off Your Phone and Listen to Me”: Entitled Presence

3. Entitled Presence in the Workplace

4. Entitled Presence Outside the Workplace

Part III. Selling Your Agenda While Screens Are On: Competitive Presence

5. Competitive Presence at Work

6. Competitive Presence Outside the Workplace

Part IV. Sleep Mode: Invitational Presence

7. Invitational Presence in the Workplace

8. Invitational Presence Outside the Workplace

Conclusion: Implementing These Strategies in Any Setting

Suggested Readings


About the Author


"Being Present is a highly engaging and insightful guide for anyone hoping to communicate more effectively. As new technology continues to affect the ways we interact, this book provides actionable strategies to cut through the noise and actively cultivate a social presence. I would recommend it to anyone hoping to be a more effective leader."—Suzanne Clark, president and CEO, US Chamber of Commerce

"Jeanine Turner delivers a nuanced and urgently needed look at achieving meaningful social presence in an increasingly distracted digital world."—Cal Newport, New York Times best-selling author of A World Without Email and Digital Minimalism

"This book is essential reading for parents, workers, students, and anyone else who feels that the phone is winning in the battle over meaningful lives and relationships. Jeanine Turner simplifies the problems, then gives us four meaningful strategies for dealing with them. She is a communication Wonder Woman!"—Dan Silver, vice president of Panasonic and executive coach

"This book is amazingly timely . . . With online meetings and chats we often find ourselves surreptitiously performing multiple tasks while we should be paying attention. This book will explain why we multitask and what we can do to become more present and attentive."—Larry D. Rosen, professor emeritus of psychology, California State University, Dominguez Hills

"Being Present provides captivating and realistic examples that address the struggles we all face when trying to balance paying attention to others and being productive. Grounded in decades of research, the combination of strategies provided for both work and personal life make it a must read for teams, managers, executives, and parents!"—Keri K. Stephens, professor of organizational communication and technology and distinguished teaching professor, The University of Texas at Austin


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

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.

208 pp., 6 x 9
6 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-154-9
Jan 2022

208 pp., 6 x 9
6 tables
Jan 2022

208 pp.
6 tables
ISBN: 978-1-64712-155-6
Jan 2022

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