Sensitive antennae

Antennae Illustration wide

In the excellent book Unreasonable Hospitality, there is a chapter about managing relationships called “Relationships are simple. Simple is hard.” I saw the title of this chapter and jumped to it right away. 😃 So often, we confuse things by saying something is complicated when it’s really just hard.

The general themes are familiar. Relationships are built on kindness, caring, honesty, and vulnerability. Sometimes, that means critical feedback, but it is always done from a foundation of caring.

“I’ve seen this in other companies, where everyone cares so much about the mission, they forget to care about one another.”

It’s far too easy to let this slip, both in the workplace as well as in a marriage (or any other relationship). Everyone gets caught up in our missions; from our next career move or a house renovation or staying on top of the laundry, there is always something to obsess over. If there has been a big theme to the book that I’ve taken away so far, it’s that taking care of each other (i.e. minding the overall health and relationships of you and yours) needs to be considered part of how you “do” work or “do” being a friend, husband, son, etc.

It’s not another thing to keep in mind, it is the whole point.

This is hard but not complicated. People are pretty good at showing others what they need, it’s usually just uncomfortable to recognize and respond to it.

“People who are gifted at hospitality tend to be sensitive. They notice everything, feel deeply, and care a lot. These are superpowers, though that tenderness can also make them a handful to manage. I’ve heard many frustrated managers complain about these employees: “They’re so needy! They need so much reinforcement! I have to walk them through every decision; I have to hold their hands through every change!””

As someone who works in a closely adjacent field to hospitality (support), I felt so much truth in this point about sensitivity, and it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as I consider my own needs, my relationship with my coworkers, and my perception of those around me.

Maybe you have sensitive antenna and someone else doesn’t. It’s not only on them to adjust to you. Caring goes both ways.

It’s not complicated, but it is hard.

Antennae Illustration

One response

  1. This is a nice read. Thanks for sharing!

    Your post reminded me of the difference between Intelligence and Smart that Morgan Housel explained recently:

    > Intelligence: Good memory, logic, math skills, test-taking ability, rule-following.

    > Smart: High degree of empathy, bullshit detection, organization, communication skills, persuasion, social awareness, understanding the consequences of your actions.

    I learned that I can be smarter by simply turning on the sensitivity antenna!

Comments welcome!

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