This is part of the series Lessons from the Backseat…Do you make the time to truly see others and find out what’s on their mind?
When my daughter Lauren was in kindergarten, we had a nightly routine. We would snuggle up in her bed and I would ask her to tell me all about her day. She would download events and entertain me with stories, and I would answer questions from her probing mind. Most importantly I would get an idea of what she was learning, how she was feeling and what she was thinking about. I knew how to support her better and if I needed to raise something with her teacher.
One night a little voice piped up from the other side of the room. It was two-year-old Aris. He said plaintively, “Mommy ask me about my day.”
He was in nursery and I figured I already knew how his day went: making craft, singing nursery rhymes, eating fish fingers, having potty time, and playing outside. I didn’t need to ask him anything. I assumed that he was simply fine.
It still tugs at my heart when I think of him waiting and wanting to be seen.
How many times have you made assumptions about people? In a hurried world where time is at a premium, we assume we know how people are doing. We are tempted to sacrifice real connection. We don’t stop to ask the most basic of questions: how are you?
It is normal to use social cues so that we can recognize behavior patterns and navigate our environment efficiently. However, I believe we are at risk of increasing our appetite for generalizations and limiting our willingness to get curious about each other.
Branding experts would surely call this a cardinal sin. And so too would my fellow communication professionals. After all, how can you persuade your customers if you don’t understand their world? How can you be an effective communicator if you don’t get underneath the skin of your audience, or find out what makes them tick and what keeps them up at night? How can you sustain a relationship if you are on autopilot, making assumptions?
Greg Monaco, brand coach and storyteller, said something that resonated deeply with me this week. “People feeling heard is an act of love. Go deeper. Don’t listen in a superficial way.”
We are living in unusual times. Unable to socialize in person, we rely on virtual connections, and have rushed interactions with essential workers. We may assume that our colleagues on the screen are ok. We guess that the grocery clerk is ok. We might even presume that the person sleeping next to us is ok. But have we asked?
Maybe it’s a good time to commit to reaching out even more in the coming weeks as we go deeper into lockdown to prevent the spread of Covid. Ask someone – how was your day? Are you ok? And then…listen.
Thanks for stopping by. Share your comments and come back soon. I share new content each week. If you are interested in more nuggets of wisdom from Greg Monaco, find him at letsgomonaco
© Arlene Amitirigala 2021. All Rights Reserved.