How Was Your Thanksgiving?

…The first and most frequently asked question for several days after the holiday.

If you are like me, you probably respond, “Great! How was yours?” which is appropriate when responding to casual acquaintances and colleagues. What if your best friend is asking, the person that always has your back and where you can be your authentic self. Time to be honest, how was your Thanksgiving? How did you engage with your family and friends during this special holiday? Were you able to show love, acceptance, and gratitude to everyone, despite differences?

Last week, I wrote a Thanksgiving post where I gave myself a goal of embracing a generous and welcoming spirit to everyone at our annual family get-together. I felt it was an appropriate goal since our political and Covid beliefs are all over the spectrum. Many of us are dealing with this exact situation, and well beyond Thanksgiving, in our business lives too. We live in a fast-paced, internally focused world where we seldom pause to evaluate ourselves in our ability to make genuine connections with others, particularly those that we find challenging. Also, we focus on what can be measured by metrics in our jobs. Much of our success in life and business requires building emotional connections. How do you measure a “feeling”? The most formidable challenge is when we try to engage with those most different from us, and our judgment kicks in. Sounding familiar?

So, how did I do at this year’s Thanksgiving? Knowing that I was making a conscious effort, I did a pretty good job most of the time… but not always. Not surprisingly, I found that the relationships where I needed the most work were where I felt most awkward. I look to Brene Brown for inspiration. How can you not love a woman who signs her newsletter, “Stay Awkward, Brave and Kind”? Taking a page from her experience, next time, I’ll try to push my judgment aside and embrace my awkwardness because chances are, they are feeling the same thing. If done with a generous heart, an awkward attempt at building a connection is a start to building a relationship.

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Kim Martin