Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The power of noticing

The thing that drew me into NLP first was that I met someone who knew how to get me on the radar. For no particular reason, I got a response to an email that I had sent to dozens of people, and that response was the beginning of the path I have been walking for the past nine years.

Since then, I have met many people, read many books, and explored many possible ways to get, shape and hold the attention of other people. The most powerful lesson for me remains that first lesson: there is immense influence in simply giving someone your attention and then sending a message of acknowledgement. We all long to know that we are knowable, to be recognized for who we are. Paying attention is a way of giving people what they want most: an acknowledgement that they are.

It's funny, isn't it? That last sentence sounds incomplete, as though it is missing an adjective at the end. But I mean what it says, that we crave acknowledgment of our being, separate from a recognition of the qualities of that being. It's not that we are tall or clever or that we have sparkling blue eyes. We can get at that information by ourselves. It's the recognition that we have a unique existence that we get when we see someone who sees us.

From time to time, I meet someone who is exceptionally good at acknowledging that I am. And that's a gift that is forever: even if circumstances change, that moment of recognition has happened and can be held, always, in memory. It is like the fragments that Eliot said we shore against our ruins, a piece of an experience that may outlast a job, a relationship, an accomplishment. Any of those things can disappear, but once we have seen ourselves to be real and present in someone else's eyes, we hold a resource.

And it's so easy to give this forever gift. Calm your thoughts, and really just be present with someone. You don't even have to say anything. Just let your mind be full of them for a moment or two, and you will have done a powerfully good thing.

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