My niece gave me a special book for the holiday. I am attempting to read it slowly for it hit a chord in so many ways that I did not expect. David Brooks, a cultural commentator, columnist for the NY Times, PBS News Hour adviser as well as accomplished author wrote this latest book, “How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen.” He says our need to really see someone else and accurately know them is to let them “feel valued, heard, and understood.” He calls them the Illuminators in our life.
Before I began reading, I thought I might know something about relationships since that is one of my core values. I will admit it has not always been smooth sailing. I am still learning.
As I launch into a New Year, it is my time to reach out to valued relationships and people I care about. David’s book has me thinking about how I go about this re-connecting to catch up and deepen my understanding of a valued friend, family member or client? Do I ask questions that genuinely take us to a deeper connection? Am I truly listening? How often are we glued to our phones rather than people around us?
People are a mystery. As I think about my clients from last year, it was not unusual to talk about how others see them, their priorities or how they view themselves as human beings. I was always learning something new. There were often longer silences as I asked about their moments of greatest satisfaction and what that meant to them. I could see that we are better at talking about what we do rather than who we want to be or how we feel about our life accomplishments. This conversation is deeper and multi-dimensional.
As I look forward to 2024, here are some steps that make sense to me in the spirit of deepening relationships.
Aim to see people in all their dimensions and ask bigger questions, getting closer to understanding each other. Given our current political landscape, and so many opposing views, focus on the individual rather than the headlines of the day.
Look for ways to teach or role model the skills to truly see another person. How are you experiencing others and how can we support the growth of our people skills? For those who work and study virtually, it may be that this concept of getting to know someone is foreign or forgotten.
Let’s consider how we might see something larger in each and every relationship we develop. As a result, we benefit by seeing something larger in ourselves for our own development.
Track our energy levels as we meet with others. When do we feel energized and when do we feel depleted? Are we open and curious about all types of people so that we better understand each other?
What is your story? Where are the high points and where are the turning points? I find that people are so appreciative to be asked about their life experiences. Do you have relationships that allow for time to listen to another person’s story? And, through this experience do you find that these conversations help refine or clarify your own story? There is such power in the affirmation of others. Then, we can truly be seen and be fully understood as David Brooks reminds us.
About Sherry - Entrepreneur, Small Business Owner, Career Coach and Creative. Former owner of successful executive search business, expert in the Career Consulting Services industry, and now coach to professionals in the early or later phase of their career journey. Based in Southern California coaching others in locations across the country. email@example.com