I’m scrolling through Facebook (it IS my job, after all!) and I stop at an intriguing question posed by Reverend Angela Henderson over at First Unitarian Universalist. In one brief sentence, she asks the almighty Facebook community,
What is hospitality to you…?
What a great question! Immediately I start translating hospitality to my professional community because that’s what I ALWAYS do. Thinking of my clients, my small business owners, the nonprofits I work with, even the customers and supporters they have walking in and out of their doors every day – the people I work with day in and day out to engage on their social media and in their marketing.
Then I stop and REALLY think.
Is it possible to translate the “sense” of hospitality into the judgment and chaos that can be the professional community? How exactly can I answer this question?
Cultivating Hospitality in Your Community
Hospitality isn’t just a few towels, a warm meal and maybe even a few dollars to get by. Hospitality is SO much bigger than that. When you consider situations in which hospitality is offered – whether it be a professional-client relationship, such as a hotel or cruise ship, or a personal situation such as a relative staying with you, it actually involves a degree of judgment.
Not only are you extending your hand out to a fellow human and saying:
Come, stay here and let me help you be comfortable.
You are also saying:
I accept your journey and am here to help open the path of a little less stress.
Isn’t that what we ALL want?
There have been times in my life I’ve had to force myself to reach my hand out and hope that someone reaches back. Through the ups and downs of my business, and in particular through the roller coaster of life itself – I am the first to admit it takes a village, or as I like to refer to it, a “tribe.” Without that tribe cheering me on, I wouldn’t be as lucky to be where I am today and still fighting to go uphill somedays.
Sometimes those cheers came in the form of a shouting, capitalized “YOU GOT THIS!!” and sometimes they whisper quiet support, but they are there. The biggest impact through the hospitality of those that have reached back, though, is the LACK of judgment that is offered and the degree of acceptance for MY journey.
Now, I thought about this professionally. How does this apply to my clients? My professional colleagues?
A friend I’ve formed through a professional blogger network exposed her personal journey and announced her divorce on her blog. While SO many people in her community expressed judgment, quick-drawn conclusions and a lack of support for someone they barely know, she was only baring her soul looking for a little grace from her tribe.
Let’s be honest – your personal life is inevitably going to get weaved into the fibers of your professional life at times. There are parts of your journey are just impossible to keep separated, because let’s face it, you’re human. And when you think about it, people want to connect with – you guessed it – other HUMANS. We are all simply looking for a little compassion and a little hospitality without judgment along this crazy journey we are all moving along. And that’s ok.
When did it become unacceptable to be both a real human and a professional?
We all know those types: the ones that scoff at the office celebrations, baby showers, family-invited office outings and even the sick days that team members may need once in a while to “recharge their batteries” and keep going. Studies have shown the teams that bond through personal experiences and allow for humanization in their company are essentially the happiest, the most motivated, achieve the highest retention and find themselves the most successful at the end of the day.
Hospitality starts with an outstretched hand but continues with an act of acceptance – even in business. Sometimes all a fellow human needs is a little understanding for the time they need to recharge, refocus and remove the obstacles from their path, without the extra constraints of judgment.
There is no hospitality like understanding. – Vanna Bonta