Recognition happens when we are seen and heard. When someone takes the time to see what we’re doing and listen to what we’re saying, and they acknowledge it - we feel known. Acknowledgment is a key part of the equation. If we see and hear people around us but never let them know, the work we’re doing is wasted.
When people are understood, they feel known. When they feel known, they feel appreciated and loved. And when they feel loved, they engage. If we haven’t stopped to know and be known by those around us, we’re cheating ourselves out of fulfillment, because we were made for connection. We’re also not allowing space for new discoveries that are realized through vulnerability and reflection.
People can feel known when:
We make eye contact. When we have a conversation, and someone puts away their phone and makes eye contact with us, we know that they’re being intentional about connecting. Even if we’re not in a deeper conversation, but saying hello to a neighbor or anyone we encounter throughout the day, eye contact can make all the difference. It communicates presence. It nonverbally says that we are with them at that moment.
2. We use their name. When someone I don’t know well, or even when I do know them well, uses my name, I feel acknowledged. There’s something about it that automatically says - “I see you.” Whether it’s our favorite barista, or our closest friend, using their name in conversation adds a layer of depth. They know we’re paying attention, and that makes them feel recognized.
3. Someone repeats back what we said. When someone remembers something I’ve previously said, I know they remember me and they were paying attention. When they reference it in conversation, it goes a long way.
4. We notice the details. They do the little things. When your closest friends or family know exactly what you like, order for you, bring you your favorite coffee or serve you in seemingly small ways, it goes a long way. Those small things convey that we know each other, and that’s why sometimes the small things, really are the big things.
Knowing each other is a lifelong journey; there’s not a point that we reach when we “know” each other fully; it’s constant. It's worthwhile. I encourage you to practice it every day, and to be aware of when someone else is making you feel known. Embrace the feeling of knowing and being known and acknowledge how that feeling has the potential to heal a fractured world.
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