Back in the days when I led leadership workshops in physical rooms, I would illustrate the power of transformational listening by having my leaders break out into groups of three and take five minutes each to answer the question, “What are you grateful for?”
Each person would take a turn speaking to that question while a second person listened not just with their ears but with their eyes, their smiles, their nods and, occasionally, a hand reaching out to touch the hand or shoulder of the speaker. The third person’s role was to watch the exchange and, at the end of the sharing, offer their observations on what they’d just seen and heard.
Those were always the hardest breakout sessions for me to end because over the 15 minutes, the energy and engagement would just build and build to the point where people didn’t want the conversations to stop. The laughter in the room was usually so loud that I couldn’t hear the individual conversations and amidst the smiles and good cheer, I’d regularly see a few tears of joy and gratitude being shared as well.
As much as you can get done working and talking with people online, I’ve really missed those moments of deep connection that you can only get in the room with other human beings. It’s warmed my heart over the past month or two to hear the stories from my clients about the firsts that have been happening recently – the first extended leadership team meeting with everyone in the same location since the pandemic began. I’ve heard about more than a few lumps in the throat and tears being shed as folks have gathered with colleagues they haven’t seen in person in 20 months or maybe have only ever met over Zoom.
If there’s anything we’ve learned since March of 2020, perhaps it’s how much we took things for granted that we’re now so grateful to have back in our lives. Think about it. Would you have ever thought a team offsite was a reason to be grateful? As it turns out, for most of the people I’ve been talking with lately, it was.
Which leads me to my larger point as we approach Thanksgiving Day in the United States – what are you grateful for? Who are the people, what are the moments, what are the things – large or small – that you’re grateful to have in your life or to have experienced in your life?
I encourage you to ask and answer that question for yourself this Thursday and if you’re fortunate enough to be with people you’re grateful for, take turns asking it of each other and really listening to and savoring each other’s answers. Because no matter how hard things are or have been these past couple of years, no matter how messed up things may seem to be, there is almost always something in your life to be grateful for. Take some time this week to note it, speak to it and share it. You’ll be glad you did.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
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