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This is a short story about how the way we choose to see people can influence how we engage them and how they respond to us – and how if we own the “lenses” we see people through, we can have very different conversations.

This is Cyril. He’s my Grandfather.

On a recent visit, I noticed I was stuck with a particular way of seeing him – “an old man” – forgetful, ageing, struggling to walk. I spent 15 minutes seeing all the evidence that he WAS “an old man”.

Then something changed in me. Cyril got up, grabbed his walking frame tightly and as I watched him battle his way across the carpet to pop to the bathroom and back, I now saw a man of strength and courage.

I saw just how large, well-defined and powerful his hands were – those he fought with as a soldier and boxer, worked with in a foundry and construction,  and often threatens us playfully with, whenever my brother and I try to kiss his bald head – once a fighter always a fighter.

In this moment I had a new lens to see him through. On return he told me a funny story about his new mobile phone, and the fun he had after ringing the wrong person so many times. Instead of seeing “Mr Forgetful”, I engaged and confessed that at 41 yrs old, I do it too ! We both laughed and said “what are we like!”.

I now saw a man full of humour, charisma and fun – a warm man who I love and respect dearly, still very much alive and being his best.

I can’t be sure that he behaved any differently as a result of me changing my “lens” – I certainly did though. We were back having the same sort of conversations – “good crack”, we always say.

We parted on the usual joke about his 2 halves of beer in the club on a Sunday lunchtime. “Don’t get too much” I said. “They haven’t brewed enough son” he replied with a smile.

This man was always there – I just wasn’t looking for him.

CONSCIOUS CHOICE : How are you choosing  to see others? What might it be like for you to choose a different way of seeing them, and seeing more of who they really are?

By Steve Holliday, Rugby, UK

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