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Build Deeper Relationships

Don’t Just Look. Soften Your Heart to See.

Learn the difference between looking and seeing. Plus, discover 3 ways I build deeper relationships by seeing others more fully.

At the beginning of September, I mentioned I was going to explore seeing. Seeing is not looking. I am always setting my phone down, and then I can’t find it. I search everywhere. Usually, I find it staring me in the face in the exact location I have looked before. 

I am sure that never happens to you (haha). But regardless, I hope I don’t do that to people. And I really hope I don’t do that to God.

Soften Your Heart to See

And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why are you discussing the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Having eyes do you not see, and having ears do you not hear? And do you not remember?

MARK 8:17-18 ESV

If we have hard hearts, we can look for God and not see Him. It also can apply to how we view others. We can look at them, but fail to be attentive — not only with our eyes but with our hearts.

Even Ernest Hemingway got this.

This looking and not seeing things was a great sin, I thought, and one that was easy to fall into. It was always the beginning of something bad, and I thought that we did not deserve to live in the world if we did not see it.

Ernest Hemingway (2014). “The Hemingway Collection”, p.8722, Simon and Schuster

The dictionary definitions for each of these words are short and accurate. 

  • Look: to exercise the power of vision upon
  • See: to be or become aware of 

Research supports the difference between looking and seeing. A 1987 study looked at three subjects who reported the disappearance of stationary objects from view. Upon further evaluation, the eyes of all three subjects were in perfect working order. The results indicated that the attention mechanisms which control visual gaze and those which control visual search are quite different. 

Seeing means to me taking it all in. Take time, fix your gaze on what you want to see, and wait. It is easier to see inanimate objects than other human beings. 

Most people want to be seen and understood.  And, it's easy to quickly feel that we are not recognized for who we are.

3 Ways to Build Deeper Relationships by Seeing

The following are a few ways I build deeper relationships by seeing others more fully: 

  1. Always learn a person’s name and use it in conversation with them. While this is more easily said than done, it helps the person feel valued and seen. I wish I had a dollar for everyone who has told me that they are not good with names. If you fall into this camp, one of the best ways to learn someone’s name is to use it right after you hear it.
  2. Ask questions. And then listen. Be genuinely curious about the answers and ask follow-up questions. 
  3. Don’t interrupt others. I think this is a big challenge for me. It happens a lot in our culture. Wait for space until a person is finished talking. 

Practice makes perfect. I hope these tips help you build deeper relationships both with those you love and with those who are different from you.

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Bob Lonac

About Bob Lonac

Today, friends call me a leader of leaders. But this wasn’t always the case.

During my life of working in faith-based, Christ-centered ministry, relationships have proved to be the common thread. My passion is helping other people grow through one-on-one mentoring and small group training. I love building teams. I love seeing people and organizations succeed. You can read more about my story and what I'm doing now.

I am still learning a lot and it would be fantastic to share this journey with you! If you haven’t yet, sign up for my email newsletter so we can stay connected.