look me in the eye

Demo Contact

photo credit: wader


As some of you know, I am slightly obsessed with all things Winston Churchill.  An indicator of that obsession can be measured by the fact I am currently reading volume 6 (of 6) of the history of WWII, written by ‘ol WC his-self.

Currently it is the winter of 1945, and the leaders of the big three allies have gathered in Yalta, on the coast of the Black Sea to meet and plan the future of the world.  During this trip, Churchill is taken to review some of the troops that have fought so valiantly for the freedom of western civilization.  Here is what he had to say about it:

At the airfield a splendid guard of honour of troops was drawn up.  I inspected them in my usual manner, looking each man straight in the eye. This took some time, as there were at least two hundred of them…

Can you imagine being one of those soldiers?  I have to believe that they never forgot that moment of eye contact with Mr. Churchill.  I am also amazed by him realizing the importance of making meaningful connection each person, especially ones that are giving so much of themselves to a greater cause, especially ones that he was responsible for leading.

There is something so vulnerable about looking someone in the eye, almost like you are allowing someone to look into your soul.  In Germany, when you raise a glass in a toast, you look into each other’s eyes as a way to say you are glad to be together.  We do this on my team when we are having communion together as a way to say we are in this bigger thing together.  As someone with personal space issues, it is definitely uncomfortable to hold eye contact with someone for any length of time…that’s my space!

There are 2 things about this story of Winston Churchill that struck me:

When was the last time I honored someone with words or an action, for the work they have done?  Regardless of how much time it might take?

When was the last time I looked them in the eye when I said it?

For my team, for your team, communicating value to them, is really important.  Look them in the eye when you give it, regardless of the space  it invades.