I recently went to brunch for a friend’s birthday and got to listen to a folk band play songs in Yiddish
. Introducing one of the songs, the singer talked about someone her family rented part of their house to and how as a child she used to remark that the old, frail woman was strange. The singer’s grandmother scorned her, and explained what the woman had gone through in her life. Surprised, the singer wisely expressed how often we judge others and then end up being
those old, frail woman with incredible stories to tell.
These stories too often get lost, and end up impacting the way we interact with others. We don’t take time to get to know people and understand the paths they’ve been on, to better understand the way they are. Perhaps if we took more time to hear and share these stories, we’d have less judgement and would have different perceptions of the people around us. But how can we do that?
We need to create space for these stories and experiences. This has been led by incredible organizations like Buffer, Basecamp, the Bureau of Digital, and a host of entrepreneurs, but “space” shouldn’t solely be defined as the public vacuum (i.e. the Internet). These spaces need to be accessible to people of different needs, abilities, backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses and personality types. We must be cognizant of the spaces we create from the communities and teams we lead, to the relationships we have with others.
I find that our culture has taught us not to create space subtly: when asked how we’re doing, our tendency isn’t to share how we feel, but instead to respond with pleasantries. Our culture tells us that no one wants to hear about what we’re going through, and we shouldn’t talk about it. To create space, we need to overcome this. Creating space starts with you. It’s as easy as sharing a story or asking questions but needs to be something we’re always doing. Being vulnerable is difficult (and sometimes awkward) work, but is important as we build better relationships and strive to learn from one another.
PS: If you enjoyed this week’s issue, I’d really appreciate your support sharing it. Whether it’s a forward, a Twitter post, or making a board game based on my life, it would mean the world to me.