My daughter doesn’t look people in the eyes when she speaks to them. Drives me nuts. Yes, she may be shy with strangers, and yes, her manners are otherwise impeccable. But eye contact isn’t a manners thing. It’s an acknowledgment thing. And the well-crafted acknowledgement is a dying art.
Now I KNOW she has picked up this bad habit from me. My attention is frequently divided (sound familiar?) So, I chop as she talks. I type as she talks. I tidy as she talks. I file as she talks. Oh, I hear her words and “mmm hmmm” from my keyboard. She knows well the side of my face, and the top of my head. It feels rare that I sit still, look her in the eyes and give her the respect of my full attention. Of really seeing her.
And I am noticing that to compensate, I compliment her. I tell her she is funny, smart, kind. That she has a good heart and the ability to do anything she sets her mind to doing. It’s all true, of course. And yet, the words often ring like platitudes intended to placate my Mama guilt.
What she deserves, what we ALL deserve, is the gift of a good, authentic acknowledgment that’s neither about me, nor is it about what she has done.
Acknowledgement recognizes the inner character of the person to whom it is addressed. More than what the person did, or what it means to the sender, acknowledgement highlights who the sender sees.
From Co-Active Coaching
Try it out.
Dare to know someone. Dare to see someone. Dare to tell them what you see and watch them walk on, a little taller, a little more committed to carving their path to greatness.
They may look a little something like this…simple and honest:
You have the heart of a lion.
Your writing heals wounds.
Your generosity inspires.
You are a leader.
The world is waiting for you to sing.
But you’ll need to start by looking them in the eyes.