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(The Art of Seeing Others Deeply And Being Deeply Seen)

By David Brooks

  1. Practice Deep Attention: True connection hinges on going beyond the surface-level pleasantries of small talk. Deep attention involves actively listening, not just hearing words. Pay close attention to nonverbal cues like body language and tone of voice, as these can reveal hidden emotions. Asking clarifying questions demonstrates your desire to truly understand the other person's perspective. Cultivate genuine curiosity by prompting them to share more with inquiries like "Tell me more about that" or "What was that experience like for you?"


  2. Embrace Storytelling: The stories we tell shape who we are, and sharing them authentically fosters connection. Don't be afraid to reveal your own struggles, joys, and experiences. Vulnerability builds trust and allows the other person to feel comfortable being vulnerable too. When someone shares their story, give them your full focus. Make eye contact, offer encouraging nods, and avoid interrupting. Ask thoughtful follow-up questions to show you're engaged and genuinely interested in their narrative. Pay attention to the themes and recurring stories that emerge, as these can offer valuable clues about their values and priorities.

  3. Cultivate Empathy and Compassion: Developing emotional intelligence allows you to recognize and understand emotions, both in yourself and others. This paves the way for connecting with their feelings on a deeper level. Consider the context that has shaped the other person's perspective. Thinking about their life experiences and situations fosters understanding and reduces the urge to judge. Sometimes, the most helpful act is simply listening and offering emotional support. True compassion involves putting yourself in their shoes and feeling a sense of concern for their experiences.

  4. Vulnerability: The Path to Deeper Connection Sharing your imperfections and past mistakes allows the other person to feel comfortable being vulnerable too. Remember, vulnerability is a two-way street. To create a safe space for open communication, set the tone by being open yourself. Building trust takes time. Start by sharing small things and gradually increase your vulnerability as the relationship deepens.

  5. The Importance of Feeling Understood Feeling understood is a fundamental human need. Validate the other person's feelings and experiences by acknowledging them and letting them know their thoughts and emotions matter. Offer genuine compliments and positive affirmations to recognize their strengths and contributions. Remember, celebrating differences strengthens connections. Feeling understood doesn't require complete agreement, but rather a sense of being valued and respected for who you are.

  6. Ask Insightful Questions: Craft open-ended questions that can't be answered with a simple "yes" or "no." These encourage deeper reflection and reveal more about the person's thoughts and values. Base your questions on what you already know about them, demonstrating that you've been paying attention and are genuinely interested in their unique perspective. Don't settle for one-word answers. Dig deeper with follow-up questions to gain a richer understanding.

  7. See the Moral Story: Uncovering Values and Motivations Look for the underlying values and principles that guide the other person's choices and actions. Analyze their decisions to gain insight into the values they hold dear. Pay attention to what matters most to them, as their actions and decisions often reflect their core values. Understanding someone's motivations can help you better predict their behavior and build stronger relationships. NNL.

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