TOOLS, RESOURCES, AND CONTENT
TO HELP YOU DO YOUR WORK
AND LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE
THE RESPONSIBILITY OF INVITING
OTHERS TO THE TABLE
Welcome back to the RS Blog. Today we are tackling a problem I have seen play out too often of late. I don’t think it will come as a shock for those who live in America. It is the spirit of offense many seem to be living with daily. Now to be clear this is in no way about judgment or condemnation of another person. It is simply a cautionary tale of the ripple effect and dangers of living offended and will be a teachable moment for us. Let’s dive in…
AN INVITATION TO THE TABLE
In 2021 I took a class with about 900 people. Recently a side group was formed for some of those alumni who were all working in a similar area. I was invited to speak to the group on Facebook and volunteered my time to lead a weekly accountability group. It was lovely to be invited to the table to help other women make progress in an area I am also passionate about. Though I was only a few steps ahead of most of them, I believe that is when we are most helpful to those coming behind us. It is when we are most relatable. Hosting a group weekly was going to be a stretch for me and my schedule, but my dedication to walking with other women as they chase their dreams won out.
Let’s face it, getting invited to a table around something we, too, are passionate about is good for the ego. We all want to be wanted and accepted. In my opinion, belonging is a basic need for all humans, so naturally, I was excited about this opportunity.
THE POWER AND RESPONSIBILITY OF THE TABLE
If you have been around for a while you know how much I value inviting everyone to the table – those who look and think like me and those who look and think differently from me. In addition, I believe everyone has a seat at the table made that is theirs and theirs alone. There is strength in knowing this. We all must take our seats and fulfill the role we were created to fill. The collective power of being at a table with others can generate a tsunami of change and growth.
When someone invites you to sit at a table they are cultivating, there is a responsibility to be welcoming, open, and honoring to those you invite. For the one setting the table, there is a heavy responsibility to ensure communication is clear and concise. It is too easy for wires to get crossed, assumptions to be made, and feelings to be hurt. We have all heard the saying that with great privilege comes great responsibility. If you invite others to a table you are passionate about, it is on you to communicate well and respect the time, energy, and resources of those you invite.
I am a passionate person by nature. I can drum up passion for just about any topic under the sun. It is just who I am, and I love seeing it in others. Unfortunately, though, there can be some downsides to being passionate.
Passion can make us hyper-focused. We feel a spark of passion come to life in our souls. Often, this is when we invite others to the table who are excited to help us on the journey. As we dream about it, we develop a clear pathway pulling us toward what could be. This becomes like jet fuel propelling us forward with intense speed. We can become so driven by it that we don’t realize we are bulldozing others in the process. Our narrow, pinpoint focus doesn’t allow us to see that others are having their own experience of the ride that differs from our passion-driven experience. This can be very dangerous to the foundation of the table we are trying to build.
TIME FOR SOME GUARDRAILS
When we work with others to grow our passion projects, we need to keep a clear and objective mind. We can’t allow the drive within ourselves to allow us to run over others. There is no journey to fulfilling your passion that should ever leave a pile of bodies in your wake. I hope that isn’t something you would ever want to do. To combat that, you need to put some guardrails in place. This will ensure you keep an open mind when others speak with us.
The first step will be to check ourselves. It is far too easy to filter everything coming in with our fists up as we naturally want to protect this thing that is so important to us. When you filter conversations through those raised fists and a stance of defending it, it is super easy to be offended and take comments the wrong way. As an example, I made a comment that began with “to clarify” because I was so confused about the conversation. Somehow the admin for the group decided I was saying I didn’t want anything to do with the group and wanted to leave. I was simply trying to understand. In a nanosecond, she spun a narrative that had zero to do with anything I had said. She chose to be offended even though I was simply repeating the words she had written to ensure I understood her correctly. Her passion and defensive position had her leading a conversation which such a spirit of offense she couldn’t see or hear what any of us were saying to her. This didn’t leave anyone feeling heard or respected.
FISTS DOWN, EYES AND EARS OPEN
We must resist the natural tendency to defend all that is precious to us to the detriment of other relationships and conversations. It is unkind to invite others to the table only to snatch that invite back based on a miscommunication. There is a better choice. If you start to feel offended, stop and take a few deep breaths. Choose to believe the best in the other person. so you can get to the heart of their intention. The truth is most people are not out to destroy your passion – especially when they accepted the invitation to support you in it.
As we navigate conflict around our passion, we must have adult conversations. We don’t allow emotions to hijack them. We repeat back what we believe we are understanding so the other person can clarify if anything was misconstrued. I have found three little words that are very effective in driving open conversations: “tell me more.” Simple yet quite effective. Often when we allow the other person space to provide more information we get a deeper context. This enables us to hear what they meant to say without our emotions dragging us to defend ourselves.
A TRUTH BOMB
In reality, all of us see and hear through a filter of our life experiences. It takes intention and effort to work around this natural tendency. It also takes awareness and acceptance that everyone has their own perspectives, experiences, and filters which may differ from yours. And that is a good thing. It’s what makes our world a beautiful, complex, multi-faceted place. Digging in causes us to stop listening to reason and we become, quite frankly, impossible to deal with. This just deepens the damage occurring to the relationships.
When you invite someone to the table, you are responsible for making them feel welcome, seen, and heard. That is fully on you. When you accept an invitation to the table, you are responsible for seeing and hearing those who gather as you also respect and honor the one who invited you. Sitting in some tension is a natural part of participating.
BE AN ADVOCATE FOR OTHER WOMEN
If we want to be women who are FOR other women, then we must be willing to assume the best, accept differences, and sit in the tension of navigating a path with others. Bless, but may we please choose to be women who make room for other women to be seen and heard?!?! We are all fighting private battles and each of us has the right and responsibility for being kind. We must stop making assumptions and instead ask emotionally-intelligent questions. Most importantly, we must be willing to hear the answers – even if you might not like them. I promise, we will not only survive those tough conversations but we will be better for it.
Whatever you are facing in your life right now, I would ask you to take a few moments and analyze it. Ask if you need to have some hard conversations, get clarity, or apologize for disrespecting someone out of your defensive position. We have to start telling ourselves the truth. And we have to start creating space for others to do the same. It is the only hope for our world.
Until next time, remember, I am in it WITH you, always,