They say that eyes are the windows to the soul. Does that hold true if, say, you’re blind? Today I had the privilege of interviewing someone who lost his sight years ago. The first thing I noticed when I walked into his 15th floor apartment was the astonishing view of New Mexico’s west mesa from the heart of Albuquerque’s downtown. The second thing I noticed was that this man would never see the complex colors that make a New Mexico sunset. “If I had known I wouldn’t be able to see when I bought this place I could have saved a lot of money,” is what he told me when I mentioned the view!
In my line of work, it’s my job to make people talk. I’ve learned a few ways to egg people on:
1) Smile. Make them feel as though you are enjoying what they’re saying.
2) Make eye contact. Make eye contact while jotting down verbatim the words coming out of their mouth while at the same time remembering in what context they are saying it.
3) Use facial expressions to let them know what you are thinking.
4) Make use of filler words at the right moments: “oh yeah?,” “really?,” “wow,” and so on…
Today I could only use words to let him know that I was still there and paying attention. I could have sat there, bored and just let my recorder do all the work, but instead I saw him as someone who wasn’t blind, but as another person with a story to tell.
The thing that made him so unique was that I genuinely had a smile on my face the entire time. Even though he couldn’t even make out the lines of my face, his eyes were on me the entire time, engaging me in his life. I smiled and spoke to him with my eyes…hoping that in some way he would catch onto my energy and attentiveness. I walked out of my interview with my cheeks hurting and I loved it!
Check out Albuquerque the Magazine‘s July or August issue to read my article.