“We get to stay in a hotel tonight” A young girl, maybe around 5 or 6, announced to me excitedly, her small suitcase and bear in hand as her parents unloaded the car in the parking lot of the Marriott where I was also staying.
“Oh really?” I replied excitedly, as I paused in my mission to grab something from my car, happy to engage and totally caught up in her enthusiasm. “Have you been in a hotel before?”
“Yeah!” She said, as her smile got impossibly and contagiously big. “We are staying on the second floor!”
“Really?” I asked, noticing her brother running around the car to engage too. “Do you get to go to the pool too?”
“We are staying for two days!” He chimed in as she nodded her head joyfully, perhaps in response to the pool question.
What a couple of cuties! Kids are so great at engaging and connecting authentically when they are excited. I felt a rush of love and joy and I kept talking to them, seeing my hotel stay through new eyes of excitement and possibility.
“Leave the nice lady alone.” The mom chimed in suddenly, a tired warning in her voice as she yawned and looked at me sympathetically, perhaps apologetically, as if her kids were being naughty and I was more than considerate to put up with their chatter.
“Oh no, this is great!” I said, even as I realized maybe that was her transition to get them moving out of the parking lot towards the room itself. I felt the energy in me change from happiness to sadness almost instantly.
Are we so isolated these days we are teaching our kids not to engage or interact? That their excitement shouldn’t be shared? That talking to others is “bothering them” and it’s best to stay silent an in your own lane?
I know I’ve been hypersensitive to the awkwardness presenting itself as people try to engage with strangers these days. As if anything we say can and will be attacked or scorned, debated or opposed.
But what if I don’t want to be left alone? What if I am desperate for engagement, for excitement, for someone to remind me there is passion and joy out there in the simple things? What if I want to be looked at and smiled at and acknowledged, even if only for a moment in a grocery store?
Have we become so used to isolation, hiding, being socially distanced (for real, not just in physicality) that we have lost our desire and ability to just greet another person with a nod or a smile or even, God Forbid, a bit of laughter or a touch?
I thought I was going to the store to buy chocolate. Instead, my mission was to help another person.
Have you ever had a moment where you realized something higher was guiding you? Maybe you called it coincidence, or “right place, right time.” Maybe you heard one phrase that changed you or everything you believed about life.
I had a lovely dinner with my friend in Iowa tonight. Even though I ate light, I ate a ton and was really full. Therefore I was surprised by the strong urge to go to the grocery store. I checked in with my body. Nope, not craving anything.
I decided I had just sat too much and what my body needed was a walk as the clouds reflected the sunset in a deep red hue. Yet, I still navigated to the grocery store.
I stood staring at the chocolate, realizing nothing really sounded good (I know- what happened to me!!!)
Suddenly, a woman started sobbing halfway down the isle. Heart-breaking, life-ending kinds of sobs. You know, like the ones in the movies where patrons get brought to tears too? Where your heart hurts just hearing the sound?
I turned towards her, and watched as people pointedly ignored her. In fact, some walked past pretending they were SUPER interested in things on the shelf opposite her. She lowered her phone from her ear and her head followed, finding a resting spot on the handle of her cart. I’m sure she didn’t even notice the lack of curiosity, compassion, empathy, or humanity around her.
She didn’t notice my approach, so I asked, “Are you okay?” She kept sobbing, and I placed a gentle hand on her shoulder for whatever level of comfort and connection I could offer. Finally, she brought her head up and shared that she just found out her best friend had died. In broken English she told me that once, a long time ago, they were engaged. She didn’t know the details yet as she couldn’t reach the family.
I did what I do best- offered a hug. She fell into my arms and sobbed for a while as I just supported and gave her all the love and healing I could channel through me.
When we parted, she thanked me profusely a few times. I am the one who should thank her. I learned a lot from that interaction. Remembering a time when a stranger comforted me when I was sad in an airport in Ireland, I thought about the power of reaching out to a fellow human (whether we know them or not). Why don’t we?
Are we afraid they will get angry or that we will get caught listening to their ‘sob story’ for hours? Can we not be bothered to show a minute’s compassion for someone in pain? For our friends, do we just say, “Hey, call if you need anything. I’m here for you.” and walk away feeling as if we’ve done our part as we leave them the responsibility of reaching out when they are in the midst of emotional upheaval?
Perhaps instead we give them a short, “I’m sorry” on their facebook page and scroll on as if we’ve really made any difference.
I was reassured that the book I wrote recently about how polarized and scared our society has become to communicate and interact was divinely inspired. Chocolate wasn’t the reason of my journey tonight. Most importantly, I was sent to the store to help a fellow human who needed a moment of understanding, of acceptance, and of unconditional love. Above all, I think we’ve lost our capacity to approach each other with curiosity and openness. Like this SNL skit, we are reactive instead of compassionate.
Have you ever been pushed out of or separated from a group that you really felt part of? Maybe you have experienced this in sports, in school, in religious community, in friendships, in your neighborhood, or over this pandemic. I’ve worked with people who have had this painful experience, but only recently has it happened to me in a way that broke my heart.
Break-up x 100 = Devastation
I’m surprisingly devastated, and it’s like 100 friends have broken up with me at the same time. To be honest, this group that I perceived and experienced as loving and spiritual has its own agenda. They schedule things and then move them with little to no notice (which is what happened.)
I Paid to Be Part of Something
I planned my travel and my whole work schedule around this spiritual journey; the time it is offered has been moved with only five days notice. Instead of participating in the 25 classes in-person where I can ask questions and build relationships, I now will have to watch the replays.
It feels disrespectful and personal, even though it has nothing to do with me. The odd thing is, many of the communities I have been part of have pushed me away, attacked me, or shamed me recently. Enough that I got very ill and depressed and was unable to function for days. I sat on the earth one day and observed myself and how I was feeling and thought, “Is this how people feel when they decide to commit suicide?” Although I wasn’t suicidal, I had never felt the depth of hopelessness I did in that moment. I questioned everything I was doing in the world as well as my purpose in it.
What’s the Lesson?
I’m trying to figure that out. As a person who really loves people, who is writing a book on the importance of community and connection and communication and empathy and love, it almost feels like a test. Do I believe what I say? Or am I the painter who never paints her house? Perhaps I talk so much about love and connection because I am trying to create it for myself.
Is It Safe To Love?
Is it worth the heartbreak? Am I expecting too much of my fellow humans? I don’t think so. I do think at the core everyone wants to be loved. Individuals are loveable. But so many messages from our infancy on teach us that love is conditional. We are not enough. Love isn’t to be trusted. Community is a place you go to find others, but must ‘Do’ to be ‘part of’.
Creating a Powerful Story
After writing this, I am considering the possibility that I am experiencing these losses over and over so I can channel the isolation energy as I write this book. I was fairly sheltered during the pandemic, but this mirrors many of the experiences of those I have talked to.
Doing My Work
I’ve already done some EFT Tapping around it and prayerful meditation. That’s when I decided to write this blog. Now, I’m off to do yoga and move the rest of this energy out before I continue to write my book.
Do You Resonate?
I’d love to hear your stories about connection and disconnection, loneliness and isolation. It is something we all experience sometimes, so why don’t we talk about it more? How do you find ways to connect when you feel like no one cares? Drop me a line. Let’s chat.
I went to my parents’ house out in the country and took a hike into the back hills where I used to frolic as a child. Memories came flooding back as I wandered through the open, snowy woods.
I remembered the neighbor, Ms. Mueller, who I had been told was a survivor from World War II and the Nazi camps. She lived up the hill behind our house on her own, windows covered with black garbage bags. I was always told not to bother her, yet if I saw her outside of her house curiosity would win over and I’d talk to her. She was very kind, if not a little strange. My dad would tell me that was part of her PTSD, but I didn’t really know what that meant.
For the Love of A Child
In elementary school one year we made paper May Day baskets, decorated them with crayon, and filled them with candy. I decided I wanted to give a basket to her; perhaps she was lonely and need some drawings for her refrigerator. I hung it on her doorknob and knocked on her door and ran into the woods to watch, terrified and excited. Would she be angry for being disturbed? I didn’t even know which of her two doors she used. I waited for a while, then ran up again and knocked on the other door even harder, confused at the lack of response. She never answered the door, and I left a bit disappointed, but hopeful she would find it later.
Home Has Changed
The structure of the forest has changed. I searched for the tree where I used to hide out and read books in my dad’s deer stand. (Around the age of 8 I “ran away” and was determined I’d live there to show my mom how much I didn’t need her rules.) The sacred meadow where I used to sit on the rock and overlook the cow pasture is now full of bushes and trees and thorns. A temporary deer stand exists elsewhere, ladder propped against a young vital tree that can hold the weight.
Can You Go Home Again?
When I come here and go into the woods, I remember the simple innocence; the comfort of wanting to be away but knowing I had a place to return to where I was loved. I think about all those who don’t have that right now and feel trapped in houses with people who don’t love them.
The water is off. I know 20 years ago I could have walked to any neighbor’s house to refill the water jugs. I’m sure I still could, but it feels different doing it now, since I don’t know the neighbors, than it did when I could bike to the neighboring farm to ask for a cup of sugar for my mom. Why is that? Has living in the city and owning my own house and seeing the separation of the world taken away my ability to knock on someone’s door? Maybe I should tap on that.
Have Neighborly Ways Changed?
I’m not scared and I know I won’t get hurt. It’s almost as if there’s an unwritten social rule. I guess I could go knock and introduce myself. I don’t know why asking for water seems like a harder step. If I were in a foreign country, I probably would, as if being a foreigner excuses my need. But I’m home, aren’t I?
I’ve Changed More Than Home Has
As I followed the deer paths, the landscape no longer looked familiar to me. I remember coming here when I was 24. I think it’s the last time I was out here. My cat had died unexpectedly in front of me the same day I broke up with a boyfriend.
I had returned to bury my cat next to my childhood dog, and took to the woods to heal my broken heart. I sat on a fallen tree, laid down and promptly fell asleep. The sun was in a different space when I awoke, and a deer was calmly grazing nearby. She looked at me as I rolled my head to look at her more clearly, and we shared a moment together. She kept eating, and slowly ambled away. It connected me to what’s real.
What’s My Point?
It was a reminder connection and love is eternal, no matter how painful it can be. Peace can be found in gentle moments, no matter where home is or isn’t. Even in the grief of a death, even when all feels lost, there is still the part of self that grew from that connection.
That’s what I choose to take back with me to the city. Stillness. Hope. Knowledge that beauty is unfolding and will expose itself when this part of the journey is done.
What is Home for You?
If you are struggling with connection in your family relationships, whether in or out of your current home, I can help. EFT tapping is amazing at helping move through feelings of disconnection, anger, loneliness, betrayal, stress, and feelings of lack of intimacy. Reach out for a free health and healing strategy session and let’s figure out how to make you find that feeling that home is safe and calm for you.
I am having WAY too much fun connecting and collaborating these days–even without touch.
When the first round of stay-at-home orders hit, I was thrilled to use my “free time” to be on zoom about twelve hours a day. I was co-writing another book, networking with my two favorite networking groups, as well as having online connects personally with those I kept intending to build relationships with.
Computers drain my energy. They make me irritable and restless if I’m not also doing regular exercise. At the time, I was busy pouting over a sprained ankle and a shoulder injury, so wasn’t working out. The only things that kept me sane were hugs from my roommate + a newfound coffee and chocolate compulsion. It was not the best choice for my physical health. Emotionally they helped, as coffee reminded me of friends in Europe.
Can you ask for what you need in this time? Can you let go of any fear and understand that healthy touch actually boosts the immune system? Seriously-they did a study exposing people to the flu and found the more hugs and better social support, the less likely people were to get sick.
When you see friends ask, “Would you like a handshake? Hug? Or for me to say six feet away?” It shows respect + you get to only throw in the options that suit you. You can also make it playful, “Are you receiving hugs today?” Instead of having an awkward moment, take charge and choose to connect.
If you need a hug or some healthy human contact, you know where to find me.
Connection. It has so many nuances and meanings. I’ve been interviewing people about how they want to approach physical contact (touch) with others as we start connecting in person again. How they want to communicate around touch and where their wants, needs, and desires are. I feel called to connect and collaborate with three non-profits who I have personal connection with right now.
So am donating 30% of my EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques a.k.a. tapping) gross sales to these charities July and August (see the end of this blog for links and more details.) EFT not only empowers you to work with yourself on stressors and emotional challenges, but can make permanent and positive changes in your life. Click here to access a short video on the science and power of EFT. I am offering inexpensive classes online through eventbrite for those who want a sneak peek. You can also book a complimentary session online so we can chat and see if it’s a good fit for you.
Join Me on Lois’ Podcast!
I’m really excited to join Lois Koffi on a special edition of her weekly Friday Podcast. We will speak about The Healing Touch Through Difficult Times. Please join us on the 10th of July at 12.30 PM (PST) / 2:30 PM (CST) for this interview! www.loiskoffi.com/podcast (Here is the replay.)
I’ve been cherishing the people I’ve been able to stay connected to from overseas, and enjoying reconnecting with my clients, friends, and family here. But overall in these last two years, beyond playing, I’ve been learning to reconnect with myself, my deeper desires and passions that fuel me and my work. I also explored how I want to help others find connection to their own being, their own spirit and soul, and feel the deeper connections to others. I’ve been getting support through my own practitioners and loved ones. My book, The Touch Crisis, will be out in early August, and I have classes and experiences to help people find their way through their own muddy pasts and out of their ruts so they can have the experience of connecting authentically—even if they feel they are already connected.
How Lonely Are We?
A recent Cigna study (September of 2019) of over 10,000 Americans showed that 61% of Americans surveyed feel lonely. The top causes cited? Not enough social support, too few MEANINGFUL social interactions, poor mental and physical health, and not enough life balance. Heavy social media users are more likely to feel this way. That’s before the quarantine prevented connection. I want to help shift this for each of you. It’s my passion, my desire, and what I feel I am called to do at this point in my life.
Beyond joining others on their podcasts to teach this great concept, I am offering online one-hour classes on creating connection via communication around physical contact into your life. Not only do you get to learn what you want, but what you don’t. How can you gently tell someone to stay six feet away and remain connected? Do you know how you can ask for a hug that you desperately need– even when you are not sure how the other person is reacting to touch? How do you navigate the tricky terrain of handshakes, elbow bumps, or physical distancing for yourself and others you are meeting? Check out some of the Touch Conversations on the Touch Remedies YouTube Channel, and if you are so inspired-please subscribe!
As always, please let me know how I can support you. I’m willing to work around barriers-including financial, time, and location. Now that I’ve gone through the wringer and come out the other side embodying all the love and joy I thought I had lost, I’m fully present and here for you all.
Pause 4 Paws was established in 2011 with a mission of working to ensure that dogs and cats are treated with dignity and respect. Through 2019, Pause 4 Paws directly supported numerous animal rescues and sanctuaries in Minnesota as well as the rescue community in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Most animal rescues are small, volunteer-based community organizations that do not have staff available to spend time fundraising. P4P worked on behalf of these organizations and has distributed over $500,000 to these beneficiaries since our inception. In doing so, the rescues we supported have saved over 46,000 dogs and cats and spayed or neutered nearly 31,500 animals since 2011. 100% OF THE FUNDS WE DISTRIBUTE THROUGH PAUSE 4 PAWS GO DIRECTLY TO THE SUPPORT AND CARE OF THE ANIMALS.
The Spread Sunshine Gang is a non-profit with the mission to share goodness, kindness and generosity to the Twin Cities metro area and beyond. We do this by providing outlets for people to creatively give. Everyone needs more sunshine!
Inspire and Flourish…..It is something we can all do. It is something we can help others do. It is something we should do. There are so many ways we can make a difference in each other’s lives. We can lend a helping hand, donate something ~ whether it be goods/supplies or our time. Watching someone else’s life change just because you decided to help ~ is a wonderful thing.
All of our auxillary events are put on and run by volunteers. Monies raised from the “Mobile Memories Photo Booths” helps to support these fundraising projects.
Every culture we are engaged in, whether personal, professional, or geographical, has different touch rules. Many are unwritten. So how can we approach connecting through touch in a genuine and open way?
The restaurant had the feel of a small, simple café, complete with a tall Norwegian blonde woman behind a coffee counter and a glass case full of baked goods. Wanting to feel part of the culture, I walked up and grabbed the Norwegian menu. Maybe I can figure this out. I was a little nervous, as I really wanted to connect, but wasn’t sure what was appropriate as far as initiating conversation. Will I talk to people in English? Swedish/Norwegian hybrid?Well, I don’t understand much of this menu, so it’s already looking bad. I traded it for English and skimmed the page. No wonder. Whale steak, some kind of fish I’ve never heard of, and accoutrements I barely understand in English. After ordering, I re-gathered my courage and sauntered upstairs into the near-empty open dining room that included a small stage to my left and a bar to my right. The windows overlooked the ferry, fjord, and small patio, which was packed. Most of the inside chairs had been pulled outside and added to tables crowded with people and drinks. That’s okay. I’ve been outside all day. It won’t hurt me to sit inside near the windows. After claiming a chair by loading it with my stuff, I wandered up to the bar for a glass of wine just as the bartender ran to the back. I waited patiently, and a tall, stocky, obviously-Norwegian gentleman and eventually a shorter brunette woman joined me in the wait.
“Var är han?” the man asked, followed by something I didn’t understand, as he gestured towards the back and then down the stairs I had ascended earlier.
“Du talar för fort. Jag föstar inte. Kan du säga det igen?” I said, telling him in Swedish that he spoke too fast and I needed him to repeat what he’d said. I focused intently on the general words as he asked if the bartender was in back or getting food from the kitchen.
“Is English easier?” he asked.
I nodded. “Yes, but I should have a conversation to learn.”
The woman chimed in and my brain immediately tried to pinpoint her accent, “It’s really a friendly space here. You can just pull up at any table and join the conversation. Are you waiting for the ferry as well?”
When the bartender returned and took their order, I paused. Just pull up and join the conversation? I felt my stomach flip. From what I know, that might not be appropriate. Plus with those full tables, it seems like a lot to manage with a plate full of food.
Dawn, my other voice chided, you would have jumped on that in three seconds at home, plus that’s what you resolved to do. Remember being in Ireland in 2009? You had no compunction about joining conversations, touching people, engaging, and being yourself. Yes, you are more culturally sensitive now, as well as more aware of the impact of unwanted touch on people, but don’t hide out at the perfect moment.
I shook my head at myself. I’m back to being sensitive to people and a bit fearful of overstepping cultural boundaries. Perhaps I can bridge that with more ease this time—after I eat at a proper table.
“Miss, what can I get you?” the bartender asked.
When we all had our drinks, we started introductions. The woman was German and was traveling Norway in an RV with her husband and three large dogs. The man was from Oslo, Norway, and was on a two-week holiday visiting friends. Both returned to their respective groups on the patio. My food arrived and I was grateful for the space while people-watching through the glass. People are sitting very close to each other, and most are laughing and engaging and talking with enthusiasm, but they are not touching casually at all. Even the couples don’t seem to be touching much.
“Come, join us outside.” The German lady peeked her head in the door, her shoulder-length curly hair standing out from under her beanie. “Don’t be in here all by yourself.”
“I was just going to eat first and then come out,” I said, startled and hesitant to leave my quiet nest, “but okay.”
“How can I help? Shall I grab your water and wine?” she asked, as she reached forward to grab them.
“Thank you.” I followed her with my food out to the corner table, where her husband sat.
The couple they were sitting with must have left. I didn’t even notice.
She set my drinks down and introduced her husband. Quickly, we started with casual talk about our trips, and eventually worked our way into other conversations as we ordered another round of wine.
This is what I’ve wanted for so many days. A connection with people, real conversation, and a chance to learn.
“You are more than welcome to come stay with us in Germany,” she offered, her husband nodding as she pulled out her phone. “We are in a really small town, but it is beautiful. Here, I’ll show you.”
Everywhere I travel, I meet good, generous people who want to share where they come from and who are proud and excited to share it with others.
We exchanged Facebook messages so I had the ability to contact them in December, the next time I would be able to enter the Schengen zone again.
“Okay, we have to get our dogs out for a while,” she said, standing up. “We will see you in Germany.”
Okay, this is my opportunity to practice what I preach.
I took a breath and stood, being careful to keep my body open and relaxed. “How do you say goodbye where you come from? Do you just say goodbye and wave? Give handshakes? Hugs? What’s appropriate?” I smiled, watching her reaction to my question.
It feels like a way to imply I am open for all of those things, but without crossing a cultural barrier and asking for something specific. Even though we have been talking for two hours, we are technically strangers. I know Germans have a reputation for being practical and structured, but I have no idea how they touch.
“Hugs are good,” she replied smiling and opened her arms. We exchanged a warm hug, and I stepped back from the table.
“There are only a few rules while dancing here,” Kari, the leader addressed the circle of dancers. “One, dance however you want without judgment and without judging others. You can run, skip, jump, make vocalizations, spin, lay down, roll around on the floor, rest on the edges, or whatever you feel called to do that honors your needs and takes care of you. Two, no words may be spoken during dance. All communication should be done using gestures and touch. Three, some people enjoy dancing for a while with others. You can communicate you want to dance with someone, and wait for them to nod or invite you into his or her space. If you do not want to dance with somebody and they attempt to dance with you, it is okay and encouraged to just bow out. Remember, bowing out is an individual taking care of themselves and their body in the moment, and not a reflection upon you in any way. Do not take it personally.”
Those are great rules. I wish it had been that easy in my twenties at the dance clubs! I gazed around the circle at the variety of people sitting in the open wooden-floored meeting space inside the small Texan church. This is going to be a lot of fun.
Kari prompted everyone to declare an intention for the session, and the variety of answers surprised me. They ranged from an intention to be playful to an intention to heal oneself and let go of body stress through movement. The DJ stepped behind the table as the circle broke and people stood up, and then the music started with a steady rhythm that was easy to feel and move to. I stood with my eyes closed, getting a sense of the beat, the energy of the music, and how I wanted to start dancing. Slower at first, allowing myself to get grounded, to feel my breath, and to remind myself to just be playful and explore.
You don’t know this music, but you know how to move and how to dance and how to feel free, I told myself. Just do what you would do in your kitchen or outside.
The music progressed into faster yet more melodic songs, rhythms changing gradually with each one. There were no words—just a variety of tones and instruments—but the energy remained. This music inspired the body to dance.
I remember spinning around the edges of the group, seeing the cacti in the garden outside through the windows, and feeling my hair and my long skirt fly around me as I giggled like a small child. It was pure freedom, and I was high on the knowledge that other people around me were feeling the same. I knew I wanted to connect with people; but as I tried to catch someone’s eye to get permission or make a connection, no one seemed to respond. They all seemed like they were engaging with each other, but leaving me isolated.
Is it because I don’t know anyone? Are people only dancing with those they know? Or maybe I sent a message that I don’t want to dance with anyone else because of what I said?
Two weeks of self-imposed peaceful isolation to write my book on community bonding and touch has created a bit of loneliness in my heart. This morning, I made the choice to open Facebook and catch up on my dear friends and family. As I scrolled down the feed, my heart sank and tears came to my eyes as I saw how people were choosing to communicate.
How on earth am I supposed to help us connect with each other when we cannot even use civil tones with each other on social media? I sighed, as I scanned faster to avoid the barrage of hatred laid out in front of me.
People cheat, people lie, people do bad things—not liberals, not conservatives, not whites, not gays, not the immigrants, not the millennials, not the elderly. There are hate groups, of course, but in general communities of all styles, individuals make these choices, the same way my individual friends make the choice to use tones of hatred.
goal seeming suddenly hopeless, I stepped away from my computer and wandered
aimlessly around the small house in the Norwegian valley. The windows offered the same view to the
beautiful mountains, and the sound of the waters rushing down them hadn’t
changed, but it all seemed suddenly worthless.
My mind drifted back to an exercise at my Blandin Community Leadership training. If only people understood how much our beliefs are actually part of our brain function.
“I am going to put you into groups based upon your Meyers Briggs results and have each group figure a way to solve this problem.” One of the Blandin Foundation program leaders said, standing in the middle of the U-shaped table formation near the front of the room.
rural community leaders, a variety of ages, backgrounds, gender and race had
been chosen after a lengthy application process to learn to build and sustain a
healthy community. We were learning
about ourselves, where individual and organizational blind spots may be, how we
interact with others, how to see problems from a higher perspective, how to build positive social structures, and
how to resolve conflict. Quite an undertaking for a five-day retreat.
should be interesting, I thought, as she divided us into three groups. The last
few exercises taught us all a lot about individual roles and reactions, but
this is the first big group problem-solving exercise. I smiled as everyone
stood up and a cheerful buzz filled the room, as people grabbed their materials
and re-organized themselves.
the situation,” she interrupted the chatter as people organized into smaller
circles, “You are on the board of
directors of a nonprofit organization.
Your bookkeeper, a volunteer who has been loyal, accurate, and timely
for 15 years, suddenly starts making mistakes in the financials. The mistakes seem to be growing slowly, and
one day it is brought to your attention that someone smelled alcohol on her
breath while she was at the office. What
do you do?”
stepped back and smiled knowingly. “Does
anyone need me to read that again?”
not quite as challenging as I anticipated, I thought as I turned back to my group
with a thoughtful look on my face, I already know what my plan of action
of course we need to have a conversation with her,” one member piped up right
away. “We don’t know what’s going on or
if it’s true she really had been drinking.”
“She is a volunteer,” another person chimed in. “But we do have a duty to our organization, especially when it comes to finances.”
we definitely cannot sacrifice our organization if she isn’t able to continue
here duties well, but if she needs a bit of time away from the job to deal with
a personal issue, we could find another person to help temporarily,” the next
this is easy, I
sat up straighter and looked around the rest of the conference room to see how
the other two groups seemed to be getting on. Looks like there’s a lot of
agreement in the other two groups as well, I noted, people are smiling and nodding and
seem enthusiastic with their hand gestures—-at least the extroverts.
giggled to myself. Blandin had broken
our 16 types down into sub-types, giving us further insight to each category,
and I could see that playing out in the room. Our group is much smaller than
each of the other two, I noted. We only have about ten, and the other
two are around twenty people each. That
must make it a bit more difficult to come to a resolution.
have three minutes left. Please pick
someone from your group to present your decision to the group.” The leader interrupted loudly over the
hastily picked a leader, had her summarize our final decision to us quickly,
and turned to the front of the room, waiting.
“Group one, please present your results.”
A prominent businesswoman stood up and projected the decision easily and clearly over the group. “As the board of directors, we have no choice but to terminate her volunteer position immediately and find a replacement. We cannot tolerate any financial impropriety in the organization, as it could cause a negative impact on our nonprofit status, our revenue, and the community trust in our organization.”
that is super harsh, I
thought, stunned. No communication?
No making sure that there wasn’t some other error in the system or an
update that wasn’t her fault that was creating the errors? Wow. So much for years of loyalty. I know how much time that stuff can take.
three, go ahead,” the leader interrupted my thoughts as I shook my head and
turned my body the other direction to hear the verdict from the other side of
the executive director of a nonprofit stood and faced the group. “She has had 15 years of loyal service. We thought it was in our best interest to sit
down and have a conversation with her, offer her help, see if the matter was
one in which she wanted to leave the position temporarily or permanently. We will give her support in finding help with
her drinking if that is necessary, and do what we can to get her back on track. She is a volunteer after all, and we don’t
need to jump to harsh conclusions or actions until we understand the totality
of the problem.” She sat back down.
that doesn’t seem to protect the organization fast, and is completely opposite
of the first group’s answer.
2?” The leader prompted.
Our spokeswoman, who worked for a large corporation, stood up and announced our decision, an exact blend of the other two. Starting with compassion and curiosity, and if the issue wasn’t fixed, to take strong disciplinary action.
brain wiring determines how we make these kinds of decisions. Holy crap. And my group’s brain wiring has a blend of
both sides, which is why we are smaller and have a blend of both answers.
understanding hit me as ways to increase communication and synergy to pull two
conflicting sides together became clear.
How Do You Choose to Communicate?
Nature and nurture both influence how we see and interact with the world as individuals. The drama in the media of all sides now shapes the tone and grace, or lack thereof, in which individuals choose to share their opinions and the stories they hear.
mom told me that if I can’t say anything nice—-don’t say anything at all. I don’t believe that is true. Communication is necessary for a vibrant
community. We need to be able to
disagree, to have respectful conflict, to speak our minds, to share what is
disturbing us and why. However, it can
be done in a curious, educational, and amicable way. Are there people spouting melodrama and
hatred out there? Of course. Does that mean you need to match their
tone? Absolutely not.
If something someone says triggers you and makes you extremely angry, is there a way to pause, take a breath, and reply in a manner or tone that conveys your disagreement in a way that opens communication? What kind of attitude and tone opens you to listening to an opposing point of view? Try using that.
My Question/ Challenge for You
my challenge for you this week. Whether
it’s a disagreement with your child, your coworker, your friend, or on social
media, take a breath. Realize that
everyone has a right to their own opinion, no matter what information or lack
thereof informs it. You may not be able
to change someone’s mind, but you won’t for sure if you attack them. Ignore those who haven’t learned these lessons
yet, except to prompt them to please use a different tone.
give ourselves a chance to heal our communities and our relationships. Let’s
say what we need to, nicely.