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How to truly 'see' others? Decoding the unseen in communication.

Outdoors photography

Back in the summer, I had a professional photoshoot. I don't know many photographers and I did not have a lot of time to research. I asked a friend who is an actor (who better than actors would frequently use the services of photographers-right?) and that interaction led me to finding my photographer in a relatively short space of time. He also was an actor and an established photographer.

I showed up at his studio on the day of the shoot. We discussed my previous experience, the type of light and angle that I felt made me look my best. He reciprocated by letting me know about himself, his experience and his views on how to get the best results.

Off we started.

I was surprised at his unique ability to ‘see’ and bring out the different aspects of my personality.

I was particularly taken by the sentence he repeatedly used when he was in total flow: " I see you!"

That sentence was with me throughout the session, and was still there days after it.

The whole experience made wonder the extent we are able to ‘see’ one another in each other's totality in our daily communication.

It can be particularly difficult to 'see' each other when it comes to those closest to us.

As Eckhart Tolle states: "The more shared past there is in a relationship, the more present you need to be. Otherwise you will be forced to relive the past again and again."

Below are a few ways to ‘see’, hear, acknowledge others as wholly as possible in communication, which I realise my photographer was doing:

🔶 Be fully present.

While conversing with others, notice when your mind wanders into the past and the future, then bring it back to this very moment.

Be where you are fully.

Taking a few deep, conscious breaths, folding your hands, maybe subtly touching your arm or chin when listening, can connect you to your body (therefore to the moment) and take you out of your mind.

🔶 Take in all the ‘non- verbals’ about the person while you are speaking with them, otherwise known as ‘active listening’.

So, as well as listening to the words the speaker is using, tune in to their voice. Its rhythm, tonality, pitch… What emotion might be hidden there?

How about the person’s body language? Are they leaning towards you or leaning back- which can give hints about how comfortable they are with the topic. How tense or relaxed are they? Are they making eye contact?

Also notice how they are dressed that day. This can give away their mood, from the colour choice to styling and accessories.

Remember that even if you saw them hundreds of times before, this moment is unique. You have been renewed since the last time. And so has the other person.

🔶 Let go of judgement.

Many of us would like to think our ways of seeing the world is the most accurate. This cannot be further from the truth. We all have our filters, from our core values to our past experiences, from our deepest fears to how we physically feel in the moment (hot, cold, hungry, tired…)

There is no ‘one way’ of seeing anything. How we view our reality is to do with us, not the other person.

So, catch yourself when you are making judgements and assumptions while interacting with others. How can you perceive the information without labelling the person?

This does not mean you ignore your values or principles. But in order to see the other person fully, and tune into ‘their version’ of the world, you need to listen without the limitation of judgement or preconceived ideas.

🔶 Listen not only with your mind, but also with your heart.

Literally visualise placing the key sentences they use in your heart. How do these sentences and remarks make you feel? Are you able to be empathetic to who they are, their situation, their challenge?

🔶 Summary: Combine your head, heart and gut to best 'see' people!

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