1: Remember the time we had “seven meetings in a row, and the fourth one goes badly, and we go into the fifth meeting distracted and spent,” Priya Parker writes in The Art of Gathering.

Or, “right before entering a bat mitzvah, we receive a text from our boss that our article has been killed.”

Or, we “walk into Thursday small group at our church late after crawling through traffic to get our daughter to basketball practice on time.”

That’s life.  

As hosts, we must anticipate some of our guests will be frazzled and distracted when they arrive.  Our responsibility is to help them leave their world and enter ours, to walk them “through a passageway, physical or metaphorical,” Priya suggests.

Our job is to create “a passageway that tunes out the prior reality and captures people’s attention and imagination,” she writes.  “And one of the easiest, most natural places to create such a passageway is the doorway.”

2: In 2013, Arianna Huffington hosted a conference to explore ideas around wellness that would later become her new venture, Thrive Global.  “And she chose to host it in her living room in SoHo in Manhattan,” Priya writes.  “It was essentially a business conference, and many of the participants were strangers to one another, and yet [Arianna] chose to greet us as if they were arriving at a wedding.”

What specifically did she do?

Ariana “personally stood by the door for a good half hour or hour, first thing in the morning, and individually greeted each person who entered,” Priya recalls.  “She didn’t have her chief of staff do it, and she didn’t have her daughters do it.  She did it herself.”

Doing so set the tone for the entire day:  “Yes, she was saying, we are at a conference, but we don’t have to act like it.  This is my home, and you are my guest,” Priya observes.

3: Another example of using a doorway as a passageway happened at Priya’s sister-in-law’s wedding.  The groom’s Scottish family was flying in for the wedding celebration.  The festivities kicked off with a party at Priya’s in-laws’ home.

“When the bus pulled up to the house and all the Scots stepped out in their finery, my husband and I spontaneously joined my father-in-law by the doorway and greeted each person as they walked in—dozens of them.

“This small welcome created a moment for virtually everyone on the groom’s side to meet the bride’s family, not at the end of the ceremony or during the reception but at the outset,” Priya writes.  “This one act sped up the intimacy and the sense of permission to walk up to anyone over the course of the weekend, which many of us did.  It was an initial act of tribe building, and it happened at the border of the gathering.”

Remember: the doorway is the passageway.

More tomorrow!


Reflection: How might I utilize Priya’s insight that the doorway is a passageway at an upcoming meeting or event?

Action: Do it.

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