Sunday, March 15, 2009

Look At Me!

When I was a teen, and later, an adult, I was involved with an organization called Western Youth Development (WYD) (I was first a participant, and later served as their Grant-Writer.) WYD ran weekend YES (Youth Empowerment Skills) trainings for “at-risk youth,” age 13 to 18 (many of the participants were either labeled as “troubled,” in the foster-care system, or court-ordered to be there.)

We participated in numerous activities/exercises that were meant to boost communication skills, relating with others, and self-esteem and self-empowerment. One of the exercises was called “Look at me!” During “Look at me!” we all stood in two lines facing in; each person had a person across from them, and the exercise was to look into one another's eyes. Out of all of the exercises that we did, this was often the most difficult!

After a long while, this exercise got easier and easier, but it always started with uncomfortable laughter, bad attitudes, and for some, complete refusal to participate. After the initial “shock” of having someone look directly at you, and looking directly at another person, some of the youth got very emotional.

Looking into the eyes of another human is a very personal, intimate thing. Something I learned through my experience with WYD was that by making choices to be platonically intimate with other people, I felt more fulfilled, stronger as a person, and able to have conversations on an equal level with others. It was, in a word, empowering!

Not only are you empowered and confident when you give good eye contact, but the other person feels respected and listened to.

Whether you are trying to grow your business, relationships, or just grow yourself, eye contact is more important than the smile, the hand-shake, or the words that accompany them,

With so many in this world these days with a craving for intimacy, perhaps mere eye contact can begin to spread the kind of fulfillment that will seep into and fill in the vast crevices that self-esteem falls into!

Look at me; I will look back at you!

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