In Discover Your Passion, Uncategorized

The clerk takes your credit card without making eye contact, your waitress barely looks at you when she writes your order, the TSA guard at the airport doesn’t so much as glance from your driver’s license to your face, and that’s his job!

We have become invisible to each other.

Last week I was at a conference with a diverse group of authors–experts on topics from helping your baby learn to avoiding scams by psychics.  At lunch I sat across from a doctor who helps couples improve their sex lives.  Casually I said, “I think men who unload the dishwasher have more sex than men who don’t.”  Everyone laughed, the women nodded in agreement.

To my surprise the doctor said, “Actually that’s true.  Men who unload the dishwasher do have more rewarding sexual relationships.”

And then he told me why.

When men do this, their wives feel SEEN.  It makes them feel like their husbands value them and notice all the things they do each day.  It’s like saying thank you, through action.

Because it was almost Father’s Day, I thought about my father, a man who really saw people.  He was a pediatrician who loved engaging young parents about their babies, even strangers.  He talked to airline stewardesses and grocery store clerks, he looked them in the eye, smiled and asked about their families and their health.  In return?  People really saw my dad, he had a great effect on the world and was one of the most fulfilled people I’ve ever known.

We all want to be seen.  Appreciation is icing on the cake but just being seen is pretty good.

I’ve been busy lately, crazy busy.  And yet I realized, it doesn’t take much time at all to really see someone like my dad did.  In honor of Father’s Day, I am going to challenge myself to seepeople for the next week. Right now I’m on my way up to Vermont to visit my two best girlfriends, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity with the taxi driver, the man who takes my bags, the person in line for my boarding pass.  And I know…the world will seem a little brighter, just from this simple act.  Want to try it with me?

There’s probably a scientific explanation that goes back to our deep history and biology about why this feels so good.  If you know the answer let me know.  Otherwise, let’s try it…look people in the eye for a while.  I think it might make us feel like a million dollars.  I’ll let you know how it goes for me.  And you let me know how it goes for you…

Until next Tuesday,



Showing 10 comments
  • Jan

    HI Elizabeth–I have been enjoying your weekly Yippee Blog–Today’s is a great reminder to stay present and look people in the eye.
    Im going to a womens chamber meeting today as a new member so a good place to practice.
    Thank you. Hope this finds you well and thriving.Jan

    • elizabeth

      Thanks Jan. You are already doing it!

      • Kathy

        Hi Elizabeth,
        It was great seeing you last week. I love your blog. The first thing we teach children that have autism is “eye contact”. It is the first step in socialization and communication. It acknowledges and engages the other partner in the course of “pragmatics.” So this may answer your question as to the importance of “eye” contact interaction. Have a great day.
        Kathryn Thorson Gruhn,
        Speech Pathologist
        Author of My Baby Compass Series

        • elizabeth

          Thanks Kathy. What you say makes sense.

    • Janet

      Every time I read your blog I think I should write something back… so today I am.

      I just had a conversation about the invisible people. Sometimes it is not intentional, people are busy, focused on other things. However, sometimes it is very intentional, disrespectful, and hurtful. Often the invisible will attempt to be visible and are quickly put back in their place by being ignored. I’ve had experiences in my life of being invisible and therefore know what it feels like. As a result, I make it a priority to speak to the mail clerk, the security guard, the cleaning staff, etc. You can always tell when they have been invisible for a long time because of their initial shock and reaction to a simple hello, how are you?

      Thanks for focusing on this topic. A small gesture but a great start to making a difference in the lives of others.

      • elizabeth

        Hi Janet,
        Thanks for writing and send more thoughts whenever you have the inclination. You are right about people being busy. I also think that sometimes we don’t look at others because WE may be afraid to be visible ourselves.

  • Bob Mathews

    As an early morning runner, I noticed that most people do not give eye contact as I pass, which made me a little sad. I then read an article about how much better acknowledgement makes us feel, so several years ago I started saying hello to everyone I passed. Now my run is so much more rewarding – I get hello’s, smiles, eye contact and I even know the names of many of the people I pass. My run is so much the more pleasant these days and I feel I have brightened other peoples days as well. Thanks for the article.

    • elizabeth

      Thanks Bob. Hope your story inspires other runners. So many targets of opportunity for eye contact. It should multiply the health benefits of the run.

  • An Old Woman

    Yes, eye contact is conducive to feeling seen… and the turning away of the eyes is conducive to NOT being seen. You seem to think the reward is to be seen, but in my experience, being NOT seen, is the better blessing. I’ve been through so many troubles, rape, robberies, beatings, etc., that I have made it an art form, to be invisible. And I have no problems now. No one even notices me. I can be there, and be invisible in an instant. And I am fine now. No one is trying to hurt me, they don’t even notice me. 🙂 I am the person you just saw, and couldn’t remember if you had to. And I am happy with that.

    • elizabeth

      Thank you for writing. It makes sense that given your experiences that being seen would feel uncomfortable and even dangerous.

      I agree there are times when being unseen is more comfortable and sought after. When I’m traveling alone, I’m glad I’m an “unseen” woman of a certain age.

      And the point of my post was in recognizing in the moment the humanity of the other, not seeing them as only a means to an end but as having value.


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