What’s in the magnetism of a good teacher, a good friend, a good colleague, a good neighbor?
Presence of mind. When they’re with me physically they’re with me mentally. While we're engaging with each other, they're engaging their full being and attention.
Listening. They’re hearing all of it - the words I speak, the emotions behind words, and the commitment behind the emotions. Then they think about it. (4 Levels of True Listening.)
Authentic self-expression. They’re honest in their thoughtful and heartful response - honest both to me and themselves. It doesn’t take much to express cynicism or criticism, and that’s not what I mean by authentic self-expression. I mean expressing ourselves from our core, beneath the thinking that gives us cynicism, criticism, and resignation. Authentic self-expression is a window into a person’s deeper passions and commitments, their hopes and intentions, and it comes from the heart as well as the mind.
Integrity. I can trust what they’re saying, and there's wisdom in their perspective.
Compassion. They care about me, and this is obvious in their listening, facial expressions, stance, and eye contact.
Acknowledgement. They let me know that they heard me. They let me know, in one way or another, that I’m worthy of their time and attention. Whether they include these steps or not, the feeling of creative acknowledgment is present.
Fun. They’re at ease, and they’re enjoying their time with me.
Generosity. The entire list above is a very generous way to be with another. True listening is the gift of our thorough attention. Authentic self-expression is the generous sharing of ourselves. Compassion is a gift to whomever we’re giving it, whether they recognize it or not, and it’s also generous to ourselves.
When I put all those characteristics together, what stands out to me is that this person loves being alive and loves people.
What would you add to that list? How would you describe the person overall?
We don’t need to understand the physics of magnets to know that they work. Similarly, we don’t have to know why the above magnetic traits work in order to know that they do work. We can foster and become them regardless of our understanding of neurochemistry, psychology, sociology, and physiology. It’s enough to know that they do work.
It’s also helpful to remember that magnetism is a two-directional force. When magnets are turned one way, they’re attracted to each other; when they’re turned another way, they’re repelled from each other.
Thanks so much for the generous gift of your time, attention, and thoughtfulness in engaging with my work. ❤️