Are eyes the window to our soul? I think so…
Communication is more than swapping information. It’s about understanding the sentiment and meaning behind that information. It’s not only how you deliver a message so that it is understood in the way you intended, it’s also how you listen to gain the meaning of what’s being said back to you.
More than just the words you use, effective communication links together your nonverbal communication and engaged and active listening, coupled with the capacity to recognize and understand the emotions of the person with whom you are communicating. Effective communication is also a two-way street and it’s amazing how much you can communicate even when you don’t speak the same language.
I used to live in Mexico City in the Polanco neighborhood. According to airbnb, Polanco is described as… “the city’s rich and famous playground. Businessmen, politicians, and social elites sip, dine, and shop along Mexico City’s luxury lane and sleep in its colonial mansions. It’s all fun and games, but unless you’re ‘Somebody’ you should prepare for some challenges—valet parking is obligatory, dress code is most definitely enforced, reservations are required and, sometimes, the hostess might call you “Mr. Nobody.”
Well, I’m not quite so sure about that whole description. It was a great neighborhood but I’ve never seen a hostess call anyone “Mr. Nobody.” While it was one of the wealthier sections of Mexico City, it was filled with normal people, working hard. It’s the “nobodys” that made it tick.
I lived in temporary housing until my permanent apartment was ready. I’d get up early in the morning and walk a few blocks to Starbucks so that I could work – and have my morning latte. Every day, I’d pass one of the private, gated residences in the neighborhood. The same man stood watch every morning. He was, the best I could tell, similar to a doorman.
At first, I would nod and smile but he would quickly divert his eyes. He’d barely look in my direction even though I knew he was curious about this unfamiliar woman he saw. It didn’t take much to know that Mexico City was probably not my native home. My blonde hair and light skin were commonly in stark contrast to the others. I’m usually confused for Eastern European.
But, as the days went on, we communicated more readily. He opened up and I could tell that he looked forward to our morning, albeit brief, conversations.
My Spanish was atrocious and his English was almost non-existent. I would say “Buenos días” and he would return the morning pleasantries. We’d have a conversation every day standing on the sidewalk. It must have been a spectacle for the others to watch unfold. Hand and facial gestures go a long way when words don’t do the trick. Although we could only understand about 20 percent of what the other was saying, it didn’t matter. We’d developed some relationship, some form of communication, without understanding all of the words. Seeing him every morning gave me some sense of normalcy in my new neighborhood and I wasn’t sure what it gave him but he always seemed genuinely happy to see me.
Then one day my permanent apartment was ready. On my last morning walk down that street, I tried to explain that I was moving and my walking path to Starbucks would be different. I never knew if he understood or not. He probably thought I was moving back to the U.S. but I’d like to believe that he remembered the “Americana” that used to walk by schlepping her laptop eager to greet the day.
Our Eyes and Our Soul
There’s some disagreement on where this saying first originated but it’s been said that our eyes are the windows to our soul.
And, they are.
American sculptor, Hiram Powers, took it further and said:
“The eye is the window of the soul, the mouth the door. The intellect, the will, are seen in the eye; the emotions, sensibilities, and affections, in the mouth. The animals look for man’s intentions right into his eyes. Even a rat, when you hunt him and bring him to bay, looks you in the eye.”
When you really pay attention, you see it. You can get a glimpse into the soul of another. You see hidden emotions, attitudes, fears, and feelings. You can see pain, anger, tenderness, and thoughtfulness in someone’s eyes – all without saying a word. And, of course, there is the electricity of a stranger’s glance across a crowded room. (oohh)
Try it. See what happens. Look into someone’s eyes the next time you speak with them. (But not in the creeper kind of way that will get you in trouble with HR). See what you find because in the end, a smile and eye contact does wonders for communication.
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