One of the greatest gifts we can give someone when we are communicating with them, especially in person one on one, is that we see them.
Generalizing prevents us from giving this gift, because we think we know someone based on how we categorize them, even though we really don’t know them at all. It creates a wall of alienation where the other person may feel defensive. Ultimately the communication is likely to shut down.
I attended a networking event a few days ago. My rule for attending networking events is very simple. I lead with my SPIRIT, not my ego. What does this mean? When I walk into the room I am in “observation and listen” mode. The only talking I do is basic pleasantries – hello, how are you – that sort of thing. I don’t immediately walk up to someone I don’t know, start telling them all about what business I own, and shove my business card in their face. In fact, I only give out my business card once someone has asked me for it.
Before the main speaker started another attendee sat down next to me and started immediately engaging me in a discussion. I’m in listen mode waiting on internal guidance to say something.
When she discussed how ALL technical people tend to behave, my internal bell started ringing.. Ding, ding, ding… like a dinner bell.
So, I told her: you’re generalizing. She got defensive, telling me how she knows technical people, how her husband who is technical behaved this way, telling me some story about going to the grocery store. I listened patiently for her to finish. I then responded: I have an engineering degree and several friends who also have engineering degrees and NONE of us behave the way you have claimed. My suggestion to you is to become aware of when you are generalizing about groups of people so that you can realize the impact it has on someone when they belong in that group, yet don’t behave the way you have said they do. Instead of generalizing, use your beliefs to ASK QUESTIONS! Understand the truth: you know nothing about this person. Ask questions and get to know them.
I could see in her facial expressions that she was starting to realize what I had said and her impact on others. I could tell based on what she shared with me beforehand that she was a woman of compassion. So, I was happy to see once I shared from the perspective of the person being pigeon holed, she GOT it!
That’s how you “see a person.” That’s how you can give one of the greatest gifts to a person.
Just listen. I start every morning asking God the same question: how may I serve today? That’s one of the ways how we can be of service. And it doesn’t cost you a thing!
Peace and blessings to you!
P.S. – If you have opened up your communications and expanded your world or know someone who has, please share this post!