There’s a great responsibility that comes with gathering people. Everything we do (and don’t do) communicates something. Here are a few things I’ve learned are important (and how they translate to an outsider):
1. Prepare the space.
What we communicate by doing it: “I value the fact that you’re here. I appreciate that you’ve taken time to be present, and I am willing to make sure your experience is a good one.”
This isn’t allowing people to be lazy or encouraging them to be consumers. It’s simply saying, “You’re important enough to prepare for.” This can include sweeping the floor, cleaning the bathroom or being aware of the ambiance of a space.
What we communicate by not doing it: “Your presence is an inconvenience.”
By not preparing for someone’s arrival, we convey that either our lives are too busy to prepare for someone’s arrival (and we really should be doing something else), or that we don’t value their presence. And often times, we think least about those who are close to us — our friends and family. Let’s not forget to practically value those we love by preparing the way for them.
2. Prepare the content.
Whether it’s a date or a meeting or a gathering of 1,000, prepare the content. Remove the “Uhhh … what’s next?” moments.
What we communicate by doing it: “I’m going to throw something together here and hope for the best.”
Again, we often value people in our level of preparedness. We each only have so much time in our lives, and when someone shows up, they’ve entrusted you with that time. Perhaps it’s a set of activities, a meal or a piece of communication — whatever the situation calls for, prepare well.
What we communicate by not doing it: “This moment, meeting, appointment, date, dinner isn’t really all that important. You would have been just as well off by not bothering to show up.”
If we don’t value people’s time enough to prepare content, why should they value our gathering them together?