A friend of mine, recently reminded me…
Silence isn’t empty;
If it were, we wouldn’t hear it so loudly
A friend of mine, recently reminded me…
Silence isn’t empty;
If it were, we wouldn’t hear it so loudly
How do you know you’re not cutting your neighbour’s grass?
Travelling through rural Canada I notice properties don’t have boundaries. At least not visible ones. There are no walls, fences or even shrubs to mark the limits of one property, or to mark out the boundary with another.
Maybe it’s to do with space? When you have the large amounts of land they do here, maybe the space itself removes a need for boundary? Maybe the land is forgiving, so the people become so too?
In life, we tend to create boundaries for safety; to keep out potential intruders into our personal space. Silence is one of our best employed boundaries; keeping others out. Or, we create boundaries of belonging; tribes and groups that provide safety against threat from other tribes.
Maybe it’s the very marking out of where you stop and I begin, that creates the boundary between us? Be it between groups or individuals.
Yet in relationships of all sorts, we mark out our territory, then check with the other person whether it is safe to proceed. An office door – a polite knock. A first date – holding hands. A bag on the neighbouring train seat – permission to sit down.
I wonder how it would be for us to give each other all the space these Canadian home owners do? And if we did, whether our relationships would also become boundaryless? A land where there is space. Space to be different, space to be free, space for autonomy, space to have purpose, space for compassion and humanity? Space for each other?
Typically we work during the week and have the week-end off. On Friday though I don’t think I’m leaving. Yes I know I’m leaving the office, but not leaving my job, my organisation, my career. Consequently I don’t experience the emotions of leaving.
With friends and family too, sometimes we don’t see people for days or weeks, yet we don’t think of it as leaving. Somehow this ending isn’t an ending. Maybe because we know we will reconnect, return?
Do the emotions of leaving only come when we know it is an ending? Or do they come when the period extends sufficiently to allow the emotions to enter? If the period is long enough that we begin to miss someone or something, does that make it feel like leaving? If the period is long enough that we lose connection or a sense of belonging, does that invoke the emotions of leaving? If the period of absence will mean much has changed and we might return to something new, something different. Does that make it feel like leaving?
I am about to go on holiday for seven weeks. I have never had a holiday even half that length before. Somehow this feels like leaving.
Yet I will be coming back.
So experiencing some of the emotions of leaving when I’m not, leaving… is new to me.
How long does the leaving have to be before it feels like leaving?
You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star
There are many interpretations for this quote. My meaning I take to be…
Only with a freedom in your heart, a freedom to be yourself, to discover and embrace your existence, with all the chaos and complexity that might bring, only then can you bring your dancing star to the surface. A free, expressive version of your ‘self’ that brings light and wonder to the world.
I received an email yesterday.
Not in itself newsworthy I grant you. I had a few. Too many in fact.
This one though stood out.
After the brief message it ended…
I had to read it several times. The KR puzzled me. Was it a mistake? An inadvertent lean on the keyboard? Some coded message perhaps? Or maybe the first two initials of the writer, with an unplanned carriage return before the rest of the name?
Then it dawned on me… kind regards.
But are they?
If I cannot be bothered to type the words, are they really kind regards? I certainly didn’t receive it that way. In fact I felt this person showed little regard for me at all with this shorthand, can’t be bothered, nod to politeness.
Even when technology is used, we surely need to pay attention to the relationship, the messages we unconsciously send, the rapport we create or don’t. Text based exchanges already lose out on conveying tone of voice, facial expression, mood, a smile. If we resort to abbreviated proxies for any attempted human connection, all is lost.
As human beings we are drawn towards people because of similarity, or sameness, and because of difference.
There are no rules about how much of each. No guidance about the levels or attributes of the sameness and difference, but seemingly we seek a smattering of both. A balance. Not equal, but a balance nonetheless.
For a relationship to become more than just there for a transitory reason, a casual acquaintance or one formed for a specific work project or short term activity or hobby we need sameness and difference. We may circumvent this need in the short term. We can cope. Make adjustments. The temporary nature of the relationship maybe allows us to be more forgiving, or maybe we simply don’t care as much? Or maybe there isn’t actually a relationship at all?
However, for longer term relationships, working harmoniously together, a need for sameness and difference emerges if the relationship is to blossom and last. Maybe the sameness can come from shared values, shared goals? Maybe a similar posture to work – being a completer/finisher, or having an attention to detail? Maybe the sameness comes from a shared philosophy on life, or from similar hobbies or lifestyle? Maybe the sameness simply comes from being an early morning starter? These are not of course, solely the criteria for sameness. They may equally apply to difference. A big picture thinker may connect with a detail deliverer, and vice versa. Someone with a different philosophy or orientation to life may value the difference of another perspective (many mentoring relationships work well in this way).
So there are no ‘rules’. There is no formal contract. No tacit agreement. Not even a verbal contract… or even a discussion. Often not even a conscious awareness. Like many uses of the ‘iceberg’ analogy, this is all below the surface. Invisible. We just somehow know.
And maybe like an iceberg, that brings dangers?
Maybe we should surface this more in relationships?
I have long been curious about relationships and honesty in organisations.
We have many relationships in organisations. Leaders and led, managers and managed, teams, colleagues, friends, co-workers… And it seems to me we are typically comfortable talking about ‘stuff’ in organisations. Comfortable having conversations about ‘stuff’ in these relationships. The target, the project, the objective, the goal, the job etc. Oh sure, some are tricky conversations. The performance management one, the looming deadline one, the efficiency might mean redundancies one…
However, in organisations in particular, we find it hard to speak the truth about deeper thoughts and feelings. About emotions. Especially the truth to power. Or the truth to a colleague. Or the truth to a line manager. Or the truth to a team member.
It seems to me that largely this is because of consequences.
Consequences real or perceived.
I heard a story the other day of a senior leader seeking to speak the truth to power. They were encouraged to do so by their most senior leaders, so at a conference they spoke up, to the MD. Expressing a deeply felt concern. They were subsequently embarrassed and throughout the remainder of the conference they were made an example of.
Such bravery is to be admired, but there are normal everyday conversations in organisational relationships which fall foul of the perceived consequences from speaking up. Not just about important organisational stuff, but about deeply personal stuff. Admitting a vulnerability, or a personal emotional difficulty from life’s roller coaster ride, inside or outside work, seems to be a truth too far. Expressing a gut feel doubt, or exploring a sense of frustration, disappointment, confusion, anger in our organisational relationships seems a harder truth than ‘you’re fired’. Seeking to explore different thinking, or values, or drivers or beliefs seems somehow a luxury that might be frowned upon or considered not real work. Activities to be judged in our organisational world of relationships. Activities with consequences.
I wonder if we need to be more overt about consequences, or the lack of them? So that truth, vulnerability, feelings, difference can be encouraged to flourish? These are important things in our organisational relationships and if they can be nurtured, cultivated, grow and blossom without fear of consequences hanging over them like a watering can full of weedkiller… I wonder what might be possible?
We all get on with some people more than others. Sometimes we just click immediately. Sometimes the connection develops over a period of time. But what is rapport?
But when we have a rapportful relationship we know it. We are drawn to it. We enjoy experiencing it.
Its origins as a word seem to be French – rapporter – to bring back, or return, and a definition might be…
a state of harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well
So maybe rapport is simply about giving and receiving? Giving some of ourselves; our ideas, thoughts, emotions and being open to others’ ideas thoughts and emotions in return. Where these connect or overlap, we have rapport.
Of course we have to know enough about ourselves, and be open-hearted and generous enough, to be able to authentically share what our feelings, thoughts and ideas are . And we have to be present enough and care enough to hear what is reciprocated.
Maybe that’s why it isn’t always so easy?
Flashing amber lights are a familiar sign of the need to proceed with caution.
On the roads at junctions, near schools, at points for pedestrians to cross, in roadworks. On the back or top of vehicles, as warnings or indications of intended direction. At building sites, airports, stations.
What a shame we don’t have them at the junctions and intersections between human beings. Alerts to slow down, stop, be wary, proceed with caution.
I was trying to explain to a colleague the other day how I see patterns and connections in things.
“For me, everything is connected to everything else…” I said.
Of course, on reflection that’s probably not true. Kumquats are unlikely to be connected to my retirement. The price of aluminium not really connected to the music on my favourite playlist.
What is true though, is that I do see patterns and connections in things which aren’t obvious to other people. They are however obvious to me. That’s not a statement suggesting that others are missing something, or somehow not as able, or that I’m ‘right’. It just is. I can’t always explain the connection, or why it is significant to acknowledge the connection, but they are often both real and meaningful, to me at least.
What is also true, is that I find it hard to do a mind map – for me, things need to be on more than one ‘branch’, some branches need to be joined up. It isn’t therefore a means to clarifying data, as it is for some, rather a way to create complication and frustration.
I have in the past noticed different people connect things in a variety of ways. I recall running numerous workshops over the years, where delegates, asked to group or theme brainstormed post-it notes, would often group them together if they had, for example, the word ‘training’ on them. To me, this ‘connecting’, whilst valid, missed out on the meaning beneath the words.
It seems we all make connections, make meaning, in different ways. Maybe you make connections in one of these ways?
These things are about the same subject, so they must be connected?
These things are related through cause and effect?
These things are all connected to a specific outcome?
These things form part of the narrative, the story?
These things have a similar significance?
These things together open up possibilities?
Where we find meaning and connection, because we all do it differently, sometimes leads to misunderstanding, disagreement, confusion. So worth exploring the methods you consciously and unconsciously apply?