I’ve been experimenting recently with looking people in the eye and making an effort to really connect with them – particularly those I have had a brief encounter with like the car park attendant, the woman who made my coffee, the other dog walker I passed in the park, the guy at the service station. When they looked me in the eye too, I felt a closer connection to them – I felt noticed. Perhaps they did too.
And it reminded me of this unusual encounter I witnessed standing at the delicatessen in Coles one evening a few years ago, having rushed out to shop after the kids were fed and bathed. I stood next to a young woman, she was probably about 20, and observed how she spoke with the fellow serving her cuts of meat. She was completely attentive to him, smiled, looked him in the eye and was quite gentle in her requests and conversation. It wasn’t flirtatious behaviour, it was considerate behaviour. It seemed she was being really mindful; fully present and non-judgemental. The delicatessen assistant and I both felt we were in the presence of someone special. I can’t fully explain what it was, but being near her felt good.
She left, and up until then I had been an observer. But the assistant watched her go and turned to me and said “did you see that? She was like an angel.”
When we look someone in the eye with kindness and curiosity, we connect with them, and with a part of ourselves. It slows us down and enables us to observe what is going on for another human being. I am liking this experiment so far.
Give it a try and see what you notice.