When a client comes into my office, it is essential that I attune to their emotional state. If they are depressed, I speak softly, I allow space for pauses and silence, and I gently smile while listening intently. If another person is excited about a promotion or having just met someone special, my rate of speech is faster, I ask them lots of questions, and I smile excitedly while listening intently. If I don’t match their emotional state, they won’t feel understood.
In our day to day lives, it’s just as important to attune to other people. Parents attune to their very young babies by comforting them when they cry and smiling at them when they smile. We can attune to toddlers when they are upset by mirroring their sad face and asking what we can do to help. Teenagers sense our attunement if we acknowledge their frustration or disappointment, rather than always focusing on their tone. And our connection with our partners is increased if we can sit with their pain and get carried away with their joy.
If you are feeling a lack of connection between you and those closest to you, try not to solve their problems. Try instead to identify their underlying emotions. You’ll feel an instant sense of attunement when you are correct. Quietly telling a friend that you can sense their pain can mean the world to them. Letting a student know that you are aware that under all that aggression is a scared young person desperately wanting to be nurtured may be life changing for them. And sitting with a difficult co-worker who is grieving a relationship breakdown is one of the most generous things you can do.
When the Na’vis on Pandora said I see you, they were simply saying that they were emotionally attuned. Attune to those around you and feel your connections improve.