Sounds trite, I know, but it was a very effective class, and there was one interaction in particular which really resonated with me…
This was a very physical event with a lot of interaction with the other attendees. In one of the exercises everyone in the room paired up with someone they didn’t know. The two of you stood about four feet apart, facing each other, and looked at the ground between each other’s feet. No eye contact.
He told us to move forward or backward (still without looking each other in the eye) until we were both comfortable with the space between us.
Then, once we were comfortable, he instructed us to look the other person in the eye without speaking or diverting our attention away from that person.
After a moment or two we were instructed to break eye contact and look down at the floor again.
The instructor then talked for a moment about the people in the room… we are all people… we are all here because we want our business to be better… we all have challenges, hurdles, skills, and talents… etc.
Then he told us to look in each others’ eyes again.
The change was remarkable.
Previously it had been awkward to look another person in the eye openly, without having a specific task, goal, or intention in mind. (Making eye contact is a common way to start a conversation, get someone’s attention, make a point, make an appeal, etc… but making eye contact with a stranger for the sole purpose of making eye contact was awkward. People looked away, laughed, got uncomfortable, etc.)
But now, with the context that they are an imperfect human just like you, suddenly looking them in the eye was an act of respect.
Respect for them.
Respect for those you interact with every single day.
It was a moving and educational moment.