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  Editorial credit: carrie-nelson / Shutterstock.com

Editorial credit: carrie-nelson / Shutterstock.com

A life lesson from being photographed

I hate having my photo taken. I know I am not alone in this. But wait. There is hope.

Close family member to me recently: “You’re getting more photogenic with age. How do you do that?”

Bit of self-preening needed.

Well obviously I am just getting more and more handsome (see picture). This thought did flash through my brain. I applied a filter though. What I said, and what I suspect is closer to the truth was this:

“I’ve learned to keep my eyes open and my mouth shut”

It’s true. There are loads of pictures of me with eyes closed and/or mouth open. They are not great. Happily in this digital age most of them have been destroyed.

But maybe it’s also a useful metaphor. Try this.

“Mouth shut”.

How many times do I jump in to complete somebody’s sentence for them?

Or am I guilty of saying things like “I know just what you mean” or “I know just how you feel” when in fact I don’t?  And then telling my own story, which of course is so much better than theirs.

How often is my mouth open when it should be my ears that are open, and my mouth that is shut?

And then there’s “Eyes open”?

Well, do I just hear your words, or can I do better than that? Am I actually listening? You know the sort of thing. “How are you?” “Fine. How are you?” “Fine”.

Really?

“Empathy” is something that often comes up in coaching conversations. And “Eyes open, mouth shut” might be just be  a way of thinking about empathy.

Empathy’s not just about soft, fluffy skills that mean we are nice to others. Fundamentally, it’s about being able to communicate with others. 

Blasting away with eyes closed and mouth open is unlikely to gain a supportive audience. I’m sure you can think of an example.

I may have reached peak “photogenicity”. But there must be some upside to go at on empathy.

It’s “Eyes open, Mouth shut” for me then. And not just when being photographed.

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