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Follow Up: Use Your Eyes; Learn To See

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about how to see another person for what they are and not for what you want them to be, called Use Your Eyes; Learn to See.  Often, it’s not very long after we’ve met someone that we begin to spin a story in our minds about who and what they are.   There was some good discussion in the comments section about how difficult this really is to do.

There were also some questions about exactly how you might do this.  For instance, Tom Maurer, from Simple and Spiritual, left this comment:

“Wow I love this post.  This is so true but so incredibly hard to do.  Because we are often spending more time judging whether a person provides any value to us rather than appreciating them for who they are as they are.  I’d love to see if anyone has any practical tips.”

I thought that Tom’s question about “practical tips” was an important one.  So the questions are:

  • What are some practical tips for seeing people for who they actually are?
  • How can you let another person tell their story first without trying to tell it for them?

Leave your ideas and tips in the comments section and I’ll compile them in another post.  I’ll also add a few things that I’ve been thinking about.

Thanks!

Published inLiving

12 Comments

  1. One tip I would offer is to think about how we our distorting our own thoughts. Sometimes we are looking at others through our own tinted lenses and, therefore, we’re not seeing people and situations as they really are. You might want to check out my post on distorted thoughts for more about this:
    http://positivelypresent.typepad.com/positively_present/2009/05/10-ways-you-distort-your-thoughts-and-how-to-stop-it.html

    Positively Present’s last blog post..when life gives you lemons…

  2. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Positively Present – Thanks for your ideas. 🙂 Awareness of our own “lens” is a great way to keep in mind how we are seeing others. I think sometimes we forget that we have a lens. 😉

  3. I try to keep “an open mind” when getting to know someone. I also try to see the whole person and not zero in on any particular thing at first. Along with using the eyes, I would add using the ears: really listen, really hear the other person.

    A very thought-provoking post.

  4. Hi Amanda, Great questions to ponder.

    I usually use the main rule of life :
    Do what you want others do to you and don’t do what you don’t want others do to you.

    Tweeted.

    Arswino’s last blog post..How To Build and Achieve A Dream

  5. Amanda,

    While I don’t always listen, I can sense who people are if I pay attention to my intuition. It is actually always paying attention to the other person…even if I’m not. It’s that quiet voice inside all of us.

    To me, letting people tell their story means learning to be quiet and listen so the person can be comfortable sharing. I don’t always do this well, but I try:~)

    Sara’s last blog post..In Switzerland

  6. My core belief is we are all one. We all have a core of goodness that nothing we do or no person can take away. What I judge another for is the same thing I’ll find myself doing tomorrow.

    I also remember “If you spot it you got it.” Another way to define projection!

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..Somebody’s Daughter

  7. Hi, Amanda. This is my first visit to your site, and I positively love it. (Found you through Positively Present – thanks, Dani!).

    Anyway, your post here really got me thinking, and this is what I’ve come up with so far. I think that people tell their stories every day, but maybe we just don’t hear them. One of the things I’ve learned (am learning) to do is to “listen” to the motifs that people thread through their lives. Most people give clues as to how they perceive themselves and whom they want to be perceived as in the way they speak about themselves, their hobbies, their passions, and interests. Little clues are left all the time (does this person refer to XYZ celebrity a lot? or that character in that book? or does certain imagery come up a lot in their speech?). I know … it sounds a bit complicated. And I’m making it sound way more complicated than it is. So let me just say that, at the end of the day, it’s a matter of listening (which is easiest when we’re not talking). The story’s already being told. 🙂

    Chania Girl’s last blog post..The Floor is Yours …

  8. I believe that some of our judgments are hard coded into the human mind. It is easy to say that all we have to do is remain open and non judgmental to see people as they are yet honestly, most of us are fooled at times by our own opinions. Sometimes we find a dark side to a person we did not expect to see and at other times we find a jewel under what initially appeared to be a lump of coal.

    Tom is correct that we often look to see if a person has something to offer us first. On one end of the extreme, shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis used to keep a notebook where he would write down everything he observed when he met a person so he would know if they were even worth talking to again. The other end of the spectrum would be to accept everyone blindly, leaving us prone to being taken advantage of.

    As in most things, I think balance is the key. We should be open to let a person reveal who they are and make our best effort to accept them for this. We also need to be aware that not everyone has the best intentions toward us.

    Roger’s last blog post..Letting Go of Control

  9. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Karen – Those ears! Very important body parts. 🙂 I like your point about not always using our eyes, but making time to listen also.

    Hi Arswino – Thanks for the tweet and that is generally a good rule of thumb to follow. 🙂

    Hi Sara – Good point about making people comfortable enough for them to share. Often we are not comfortable really sharing ourselves with others. Being an inviting person is a great way to get to know people. Thanks!

    Hi Tess – I’ve never heard that before – “If you spot it you got it.” I like that a lot! And, you’re right, many times the things we see in others are really just ourselves. 🙂

    Hi Chania Girl – I’m glad you stopped by! And thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂 “The story’s already being told.” – I think that is perfect wording! If we take the time to pick up on it we’ll hear it. Maybe we just need to want to know their story.

    Hi Roger – You’ve presented another good side to this question. That’s right, we are sometimes fooled by others. For one reason or another, we don’t pick up correctly on someone (or they are very good at acting). Certainly, first impressions happen very quickly and there is probably a good reason for this. As you said, there are times when we need to be cautious with other people. Maybe being completely non-judgmental would be impossible, but simply knowing that you do it would give you some time to realize that your impressions aren’t always correct.

  10. Thanks for this post. My sense is that the more we’re conscious of our own wholeness, the less we find ourselves looking to what we can “get” from others. If we recognize we’re perfect or “good enough” even when we’re alone, for instance, we aren’t going to be out there sizing up others for whether they can introduce us to cool or prestigious people and not relating to them as human beings.

  11. I think that we let perceptions get in the way sometimes – by the way others look, act, etc. And the truth is, we have no way of knowing what has led up to the point of where they are at in life right now. I try to keep that in mind – that I have no way of knowing what has brought this person to where they are today. For example, a person who has just come from a difficult day at work may be more “on edge” than had that same person had a great day, or for that matter, even an averge day at work – and that can change the way this person interacts with others – based solely upon a one-time event.

    It’s not always easy, that’s for sure, to makes assumptions based on our perceptions. Although, I do find this to work pretty well for me – when I apply it…

    Lance’s last blog post..As Close To Eden As You’ll Get

  12. Amanda Linehan Amanda Linehan

    Hi Chris – I like this point. Feeling secure in ourselves, having a strong sense of self does help us to relate to others in a more satisfying way. I guess when you feel good about yourself, you don’t have to go looking for others to fulfill what you lack. Thanks for this idea.

    Hi Lance – This is a great idea. You’re right – we have no idea what that person has been through, whether that day or in a life time. Before we judge, we really need to create a blank slate in our mind about this person, because we simply don’t know. Awesome idea.

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