Taking Responsibility for Your Energy.
The morning began like many others had before it. Our team was excitedly setting out the last few things to welcome in a new group. People started wandering in one by one. As most people do, they looked around anxiously at first, checking out who was there and where everyone was sitting. They smile with a little relief when we direct them to the coffee and our chef’s warm muffins. They pick a spot to sit and chat with their coworkers about the commute or yesterday’s drama at work.
As the time to start approaches and the group fills up, the volume goes up. Everyone is settling in, laughing and talking, enjoying the opportunity to just hang out with each other over a cup of coffee.
Then Pat walked in.
There was little doubt that Pat was unhappy about being there. It was all over his face and in every movement that he made. When I greet him with a cheery “Good morning! Welcome to Thought Design!”, he responds with a curt “Morning” that somehow sounds like a single syllable. It was like someone had opened the door and a cold wind blew in. The room went quiet. People began to fidget with their handouts or get up for refills on their coffee. A few people made attempts at small talk with Pat, only to be met with silence or more gruff responses.
We were still waiting for one more person to arrive before we could begin the session and the room had gone largely silent. I began to move around the room, asking questions and attempting to stir up just a bit of the energy that had been in the room only moments before.
Then George arrived.
We heard him before we saw him. He sang out a “Good morning!” to our office manager on the way in. George entered the Lab with a smile on his face and greeted the entire room with a “Hey, everyone. Sorry I’m late! Did you start without me?”.
The change in the room was palpable. I’d swear I heard everyone in the room heave a collective sigh of relief. It was like a switch turned back on and the chatter and banter began again. I felt like I had whiplash from the rapid shifts from one group to another and then back again so quickly.
We’ve all had experiences like this, right?
I’ve been facilitating group experiences for over thirty years and I can tell you – it’s a thing. On the days when people are bringing negative or resistant energy, I walk out feeling like I’ve just pushed a cart full of boulders uphill. Conversely, on the days when the energy is easy and willing, even when we’ve covered really hard stuff, I will always walk out the door feeling energetic and ready for more.
We are all attuned to the energy of one another.
You know this from your lived experience, but you might not know that actual science stands behind it. When you say that you are “on the same wavelength” with someone, you really are. Part of the human experience is the give and take of energy, emotional experience, and mental attention.
So, how much responsibility do we take for it?
When you walk into a meeting, you probably pay close attention to many of the words you use, but are you paying attention to the energy that you bring into the room? When you pop into the Zoom room, walk into someone’s office, or sit down at the dinner table, have you measured or adjusted the kind of energy you are contributing?
Even your silence (sometimes especially your silence) can be loud.
What might change if every workplace had a sign like this at the door?
We ask people to take responsibility for their words and their actions, but what if we started expecting people to own up to their contribution to the energy of the rooms they are in? For that matter, what if every household had this sign by the front door? Now we’re talking .
What kind of energy do you usually carry with you?
What might you check at the door the next time you walk into a room with your coworkers or family?
Just a little food for thought.