Have you ever felt invisible?
I have and it caught me by surprise.
I’m on the board of an organization. We interact over email, have virtual meetings and a few in person meetings. We “know” one another from our "roles" but don’t necessarily know the "person" behind the role.
Following one of our virtual meetings I followed up with a board member for information. It was a one on one exchange, not in a group format. As we concluded our “business”, I was completely surprised.
He sent one more email.
As coaches we have our signature sign offs at the end of our emails. Mine always includes part of my belief statement or tag line, “From Fear to Freedom”. He expressed interest in my tag line. It caught his attention.
It was at that moment that I felt "seen".
I imagined my sign off catching his eye and as he read it he mulled it over. He took an extra few seconds to write again and ask me about it. He saw past the black and white text to wondering about the meaning. Perhaps a picture of me came to mind. I became the person behind the email. Not my role on the board or as a coach but as Pam.
I felt an instant connection.
At first I was surprised by the inquiry. That feeling of not being seen came up. He hadn’t expressed interest before. But that was quickly replaced by a little thrill that he was curious about the tag line, liked it and asked me more. I felt the connection simply as one person to another.
Why did it matter?
To be seen and heard is a desire we all have to connect with others, be acknowledged and feel we matter. And it goes both ways. Yes, we want to be seen but we also need to see. Yes, we want to be heard but we also need to listen. That give and receive exchange is so powerful. It can be challenging for certain people though. Some are more protective of themselves, not willing to be seen or heard. It can feel scary. "What if I say the wrong thing or the person doesn’t get me?" Instead, they find themselves holding back and retreating into safety. That can feel isolating.
Give it a try.
You may feel vulnerable. But that’s ok! Remember the other person is a human being too. None of us are perfect. At the end of the day we all want to feel that we matter.
So the next time you are feeling invisible or disconnected, get connected by trying the following: (This applies to people you know and don’t know!)
- Make eye contact, smile, say hello
- Observe and get curious
- Listen without forming answers, thoughts or judgments
- Seek to understand, focus on what the person is saying
- Ask questions
- Acknowledge what you see and hear
- Have an opinion and be willing to share it
It’s your turn! How can you be visible today?