Look around. What do you see? A large object or a small detail? The color green or the subtle brown interspersed between it?
You see when it comes to things and “stuff”, expanding our awareness is a good thing. We sometimes call this “presence” or “in the moment”. I know that it is hard to get better at awareness when everyone is telling you to focus more.
Sometimes, though, when we are focused it is the awareness of what is around our focus that can be very helpful and very powerful. Remember the wheel and the ground? Here is another example where focus together with awareness can lead to better thinking.
What is both confusing and sometimes misleading is that we think that when we are aware of another person (be it family, friend or colleague) that we are being kind, considerate and thoughtful to that person. This really isn’t true nor is it very effective in deepening our relationships with those around us.
We need to go further with people than simply being aware of others. We need to acknowledge to them our awareness of them. We need to affirm to them that their presence is important to us (even if it is only for an instant). All of us look for acknowledgment from others whether we do it consciously or not.
Acknowledgment is giving the other person feedback that they are a part of your life. It is the confirmation that we heard what the other person said and was feeling. Acknowledgment shows our interest in the other person and that they matter.
The practice of acknowledging a person in a conversation or a phone call are all ways that help provide energy to the relationship we are trying to nurture, cultivate and grow. It is so simple but many don’t practice this skill.
It brings life to the other person that is being acknowledged by the attention and focus you give them for a short period of time. We feel good when we are acknowledged by someone else. We feel terrible and cheated when we are not.
Acknowledgment helps us forget our insecurities and gives us the strength to (in a sense) “let go” and be ourselves in a relationship. Our conversations and our relationships begin to become more authentic, less misleading, and much more helpful.
Listening is a very important part of acknowledging anyone. It can be so powerful for as my wife constantly reminds me that sometimes — “people just want to be heard”.
Becoming more aware is good but acknowledging more the presence of others in your life is priceless. Generosity towards others can begin simply through this practice of acknowledging their presence.
Leave your computers and phones at home when you set out to practice this skill. They don’t work and will only mislead you in thinking that they did.