Did I just see you do that?
You may wonder how this topics relates to communication, so let me head that question off at the pass.
The way we act and behave has a direct connection to our integrity and character, which are communicated to those around us in a multitude of ways. Watching people can't reveal everything about their character but it sure does tell a very interesting story.
Just sit in an airport or at a restaurant for awhile and you'll see the most interesting things. There are actually websites devoted to the art of people-watching. I may not have taken the official course, but wowee, I feel I have some auditing credits under my belt.
I was in the breakfast area of my hotel this morning. After jockeying for position at the toaster ("oops, is this your toaster slot?" "Nope, go ahead, I think that has been sitting there awhile"), I sat down to enjoy a nice bit of people watching with apricot preserves. A well-dressed gentleman entered the breakfast area holding his briefcase. A very polite server asked him if he wanted to take a seat. The gentleman replied, "I'm not sure I'm going to eat breakfast" and continued towards the food as if he was going to check it out or maybe see if a colleague was already there. I happened to have a bird's eye view and, as the server turned away to wait on someone else, the very nicely dressed gentleman walked over to the buffet, grabbed a banana and a muffin and......wait for it!.......shoved them into his briefcase. WHAT? Did I really just see you do that?
Now, I totally adhere to Stephen Covey's habit of highly effective people to "seek first to understand". Perhaps he was on a scavenger hunt, and items 8 and 9 on the list were "a banana and a muffin from a hotel breakfast buffet". Perhaps he lost his wallet and simply couldn't find a way to pay for his morning sustenance. But....really???
Just on the heels of that gem, I saw a beautifully-dressed woman walk by our tables. A gentleman at a neighboring table gazed at her walking for a good 2, 3, 4, maybe 10 seconds...... as his wife and two little girls sat by his side. Did I really just see you do that? Again, seek first to understand. Maybe even though he seemed to be looking at her like I look at the Culver's cherry-chocolate concrete, maybe--just maybe---he thought she looked like his long-lost cousin and he was staring to be certain.
Just for today, perhaps I should remember that no matter what we do, someone is likely always watching us. I am going to be determined to act in a way that I would not be embarrassed to be seen doing everything I do today.