It’s In The Eyes - The Ability To Relate To Anyone

The next person you talk to, I want you to look past the big picture of their face and really look at their eyes. Study them, focus on them and listen intently to what words are coming out of their mouth. We can speak on the average of 150 words per minute, but our brains can process upwards of 1,500 words per minute. This explains why we get bored. Use this extra time to drift off in that next conversation and really attempt to read into that person’s life. 

Look for the dark circles, look for the crow's feet, look for and identify signs of fatigue in and around their eyes. They tell the story, the real story of that person’s life, it can’t be hidden. The picture I posted with sunglasses is on purpose, but not the one I really wanted; my eyes were exhausted, it wouldn’t have been my best picture. So I hid. I covered my eyes with sunglasses, but presented overall (I think) with some confidence; shirt, tie, etc.

•        The Importance Of Mimicking The Way

Someone Looks At You

•        Take The Time To Look Past The General

View Of A Persons Face

•        Each One Of Us Has Three Identities 

•        Controlling The Direction A Conversation

Or Relationship Goes In

•        Understanding The Importance Of Empathy

I was fortunate enough to be involved in interviews for a city department Detective’s promotional exam. I realized as one candidate after the other sat in front of myself and the panel, that the eyes tell such truths. After getting a good feeling for each interviewee and as question rolled toward them, I looked them in their eyes. I really wanted to try and get to know who they are, what kind of life the have, and compare that to the way they presented. 

Studying for a Detective’s promotional exam is very much like any other promotion process. Reading lists are given, statute books are studied, and phone calls are made to other brothers and sisters that have recently taken the same type of exam. If you don’t walk into that room having a really good feeling on what you’ll be asked, then one of two things are happening. One: you really haven’t prepared because you really don’t want the position. Or two: you’ve prepared some but not enough because you are a newer officer and are really just taking the exam to get a feel for things. 

Although they all had the same training, the same study list, the same opportunity and the same amount of time to prepare, everyone of us does things differently. My father taught me at a very young age that "We all put our pants on one leg at a time." I never really knew what that meant until I got older. Now, at this stage of the game, man, it makes so much sense if I take the time to listen and understand the person in front of me. 

All of that said, after 22 years of law enforcement, your bullshit detector is set pretty high. It was clear by the end of the day who the best candidates were. But for me it was a bit deeper. While technical skill, knowledge, and communication skills are important, there’s more to it than just that. You see, when the suits come off, when these candidates are back in their comfort zone and normal environments, they seamlessly revert back to who they really are. I was looking at the bigger picture, having worked with many detectives from around the State of Connecticut. I asked myself, is this the guy I would want to work with for the next several years? (I say guy simply because in the process I’m referring to there were no female candidates.) 

I took the opportunity to begin studying their hands. Did they chew their nails, were they married, and if so did they mention their wives during the initial or opening statement they made. Next is the watch. The watch you wear tells a lot about you, from the military style waterproof, bulletproof, damage proof one to the high end flashy watch that never gets used because we all mostly check our cell phones. Checking the shirt, ties, and jackets next. Are they sloppy or neat, pressed or winkled, fitted or off the rack. It’s not judgements that I’m making to be negative, it’s judgements I’m making to make the best choice for the officer that deserves the bump and would be the right fit.

Anyway, you get it?  I’m working my way through these guys to see just how much of them I can learn of their true character outside the rehearsed textbook answers that they had down pat. As I put it all together, I moved past the face, hairline, etc. and got to the orbits of the eyes. I deliberately made eye contact with them, but not in a creepy way. I mimicked the way they looked back at me. Try it, but don’t be obvious about it. If they have eyebrows that raise when they talk and their head tilts slightly to one side, you do the same. It’s unbelievable how that person will begin to relate to you just by that simple move.

I began to do this intentionally to each candidate, forcing them to keep eye contact with me and forcing them to start to relax. I wanted to be their friends in this process because it is incredibly stressful for candidates and let’s be honest, cops are difficult people. Sometimes, on occasion, even unforgiving. I needed these candidates to show me who they are because I wanted them to fit in the position they deserved to get. Does that make sense? Like with any business- public, private, customer service to public service, the round peg must go in the round hole. 

Off track, let’s get back to this. I’ve been running through this thought process for some time. If you are not taking the time to really pay attention to people-the way they look, how they look at you, and what they say, you are doing yourself an incredible disservice. You can learn so much about a person just by simply “sizing them up.” Once you understand them you can make that interaction whatever you want it to be, no matter how they come across. 

In everyone of us there are three people. 1) How we see ourselves. 2) How others see us. And 3) Who we truly are. In my seminars, specifically the De-Escalation and Workplace Violence Training's, I always ask, “Anyone in the room that has a perfect life, that has no stress, no debt, and all happiness, raise your hand.” How many raise their hands? You guessed it, none. We all have troubles, issues, struggles, and negative thoughts. The question each one of us has to ask ourselves each day is, "How am I going to show myself to people today?"

I may sound paranoid, but I prefer realistic and understanding to the struggle that life is for everyone. The eyes cannot lie. If you don’t sleep, the eyes will show it. If you have stress, the eyes will show it. If you’re not being honest, your eyes will show it. If you drank too much, your eyes will show it. But I'm sure you get the picture.

A huge tactic with any situation is empathy. Once you learn to empathize it’s then when you begin to take control of situations, relationships, and conversations. Take into consideration what I said above, in that everyone carries stress and tension, they also carry self-doubt and hesitation. Once you accept that and consciously allow it to play a role in your daily life, dealing with others is a snap. Don’t get me wrong, it takes practice, daily practice; it’s like going to the gym. I still lose sight of it from time to time, I’m human, ya know? I don’t sleep as much as I would like, I burn my candle at both ends, so sometimes I slip with how I deal with others. 

And you will too, but when you do, allow yourself to feel guilty about it. Allow yourself to play it back in your mind and decide how you’d do it differently if you could do it again. I’m even going as far as to say, punish yourself a little bit. If you didn’t do your best with someone that needed you for something, anything, your kid wanted to go outside to play but you yelled at him for the third time to stop bothering you, you had work to do; or the co-worker that came to you with a problem that they couldn’t figure out on their own and you were rude or insensitive to their needs, but shouldn’t have been. Now is the time to punish yourself a bit, take away a small pleasure, or something you think you’ve earned the right to have or do. Your psyche will remember this. Keep doing it until you learn that lesson. 

It is so easy from day to day to let all nonsense, stress and aggravation build up. It's easy to forget to stop and actually listen, yes to others but more importantly to ourselves. Forget the cliche of it goes by fast, we all know this. Remember the moment, right now, the present moment, and then remember all the next moments that come. Pay attention to people and let the things they cant hide teach you about them. 

We all need someone now and then. 

Chris Marciano - CEO/Founder Prepare To Act, llc 

Chris Marciano