Updated: Nov 30, 2018
How to create human connection in a hyperconnected world using an ancient African greeting.
I first came across that greeting while reading a novel set in southern Africa. It immediately resonated deeply with me – its simple elegance, and the profound connection it instantly creates between two people. I see you. It is the most beautiful acknowledgement of a fellow human being’s existence and value as such on this earth.
Not, ‘hey, how’s it going?’ or ‘whassup’ or ‘how do you do’. It’s not a request for information, it’s not a mere formality when meeting someone. These three words acknowledge, focus attention, hold the person receiving the greeting. I see you. You exist. You are precious. I do not judge you. If you are ill, sad, happy, on top of the world – it doesn’t matter, I see you, just as you are, and that’s just perfect.
I recently had the great pleasure of working with a coach/Leader from South Africa, and, two decades after first reading it, there was that wondrous greeting again, breathed into life in that joyful, profound manner of South Africans – I See You. The words hit me squarely in the chest and stomach, sending butterflies swirling and warmth radiating through me.
Reviving Human Dignity
“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.” - Simone Weil
How often do we walk through our lives not seeing the world around us? Not making eye contact. Ignoring the “strangers” around us. Can you imagine the impact if we greeted each other with “I see you”? If we took time to really, authentically connect with and “see” each other. We’re so distracted when we meet with friends and colleagues, so many things compete for our attention. We meet for dinner and we’re eating and drinking while chatting. How often do we really make eye contact? Give the person we’re with our full and undivided attention? The energy and connection created between people is tangible when you achieve that level of softly focused attention with each other.
For a deeper dive into the beauty of "I see you", please take a short while to watch this TEDx Talk: