6 Steps To Your Best Life-Changing Conversations
L O O K
Waiting to do lunch with one of the exceptional young leaders I mentor here in the Denver area, I had to be careful to not stare at the next table on the patio. There sat three people wearing big wrap-around sunglasses, attempting to have some sort of conversation.
The humor in the scene only increased as two were checking their cell phones. One kept looking back to the restaurant entrance for a fourth lunch partner. All three were talking at once. They were repeatedly asking one of the others to repeat themselves.
Nobody could see anybody’s eyes. Nobody was listening, I’m convinced, because they could not see the eyes of anyone at the table. Nor did they seem to care to.
We’ve all heard Moms and Dads say to their kids, “Look at me.” If we have kids we’ve said that to our own. Innately we know that communication, at it’s best involves the eyes. Looking.
If you cannot see the eyes of those with whom you are engaging, both listening to and talking with, it’s harder to communicate. There is something that happens in looking at each other, intentionally, that opens up pathways of communication. Taking time to look at and into each other adds huge value to the time spent together.
When mentoring, if not able to be in the physical presence of the person, this is one of several good reason why I prefer to use Skype over using the phone (unless you have FaceTime on each iPhone)--you can see the person you are talking with. I can see their eyes and they can see mine.
How do you look at people? How do you look at anyone you with whom you are communicating? I’m inferring more than just seeing them.
We see a lot. Just look quickly around you. Do a 360 of where you are. Again, you are smart enough to remember some of what you’ve just seen.
But now, stop. Remember that word from the last post. Stop. Look. Pay some honest attention. No glancing here. Observe. What are the colors. Textures. Objects. What’s moving? What’s stationary? What’s out of place? Nice job.
Now, reflect back to your last conversation with a friend or colleague, a family member, even a total stranger. Did you stop long enough to really look at them. What do you remember? Did your gaze match the intentionality and purposefulness of why you were spending any length of time with that person?
My friend showed up looking a bit harried. After ordering we got down to the mentoring moments we often share, in depth, over lunch.
In the few years I’ve been mentoring this good man I’ve watched him grow into a deep-hearted man, a faithful husband, and vibrant, fun father, a trusted friend of others, a brilliant, articulate business man. He is a leader who lives increasingly well out of the 8 dimensions of his life.
Being the friends we are, he eased into the chair, took a deep breath, and for a moment we just sat there and looked at each other. Nothing needed to be said. We knew we had both dashed to this moment in time. The silence was the beginning of unwrapping the gift of mentoring we would share as we further explored his life.
He will now know this when he reads this, but I did a little experiment on him. He had some extra important things to share. We knew that ahead of time.
Not to distract him, but on a few occasions, I looked around when he was talking. When that happened the conversation languished a bit. He was not quite as focused.
However, when I turned my attention to him and looked him square in the eyes, the conversation immediately picked up. Clearer focus. We got down to the life-changing business at hand. The conversation became animated. There was connection. Dialogue ensued. Wandering monologue was non-existent.
Looking, honest looking, not a catatonic stare, but stopping to take the time to look to both see and hear what was being said, took us both to necessary and new depths of friendship. There was quiet power to the conversation.
When my young friend first sat down his face looked weary. When we departed his face looked more relaxed. We did more than see each other. We looked, into and through the eyes of each other, into the life situations we were talking about.
We parted company because we knew we had been heard. We heard each other because we had taken the time to look at and into each other. We looked because we intentionally stopped, paused, and this took us easily to Step Three.
In the next few days, I challenge you to practice looking at the people with whom you are conversing. Short conversations. Longer ones. With people you know very well. With strangers. No furtive glances. Look. Look deep. Take the time to observe all that is taking place.
This week I will have spoken with people from 9 months of age to almost 70. In every situation where there was honest, intentional, life-changing, life-giving conversation, looking paved the way to what really needed to be heard and communicated.
Step Three will be coming your way within three days.
6 Steps To Your Best Life-Changing Conversations