Are you a Diminisher or Illuminator?

June 7, 2024

“I’ve come to believe that the quality of our lives, and the health of our society depends, to a large degree, on how well we treat each other in the minute interactions of daily life.” David Brooks, How to Really Know a Person

That might explain some things. We are not treating each other very well, are we?

Brooks’ book helped me take stock of just how well (or poorly) I have been treating the people in my life. Essentially, he asked this question: Are you a “Diminisher” or an “Illuminator” ?

Here’s how he described both…


Diminishers make people feel small and unseen.
Diminishers dehumanize others.  “No crueler punishment can be devised than to not see someone, to render them unimportant, or invisible. To say you don’t matter. You don’t exist. “
Diminishers are socially ignorant, completely unaware of the other.
Diminishers dominate conversations.
Diminishers turns every conversation back to themselves.
Diminishers never asks questions about you.
Diminishers are never curious.
Diminishers are “toppers”, always one-upping everyone else.
Diminishers are “bore bombs”, always giving you a lecture.
Diminishers are naïve, assuming that the way the world appears to them is the objective view.
Diminishers are conceited, thinking they are  much more complicated and interesting than you.


Illuminators have a persistent curiosity about other people.
Illuminators are openhearted. “Above almost any other need, human beings long to have another person look into their face with loving respect and acceptance.”
Illuminators believe there is no such thing as an ordinary person.
Illuminators have inverse charisma…”a sense of being listened to with such intensity that you have to be your most honest, sharpest, and best self.”
Illuminators are kind and wise.
Illuminators offer a different quality of attention.
Illuminators portray a posture of respect and reverence for others.
Illuminators are aware of the infinite dignity of each person they meet.
Illuminators are tender, with deep emotional concerns about another being.
Illuminators are active, curious listeners.
Illuminators regularly practice “I see in you…”

Feeling challenged by all that? Yeah, me too. But imagine if we adopted the “Illuminator” posture how our relationships would grow in health, quality and numbers.

I’m curious what you think about this. Post a comment when you get the chance!

And may you be surrounded by illuminators who see in you the amazing person you are and call out your unique contribution to the world!




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