I snapped at someone in a circle I was hosting this morning.
35 of us were gathering for an 8:30 start. At 8:30 only about 12 were in the room. By 8:45, with about 20, we decided to start our work and began to move our chairs closer to the center of our circle. As we did so, a fellow asked me, “Why are you excluding me?” I see now that I didn’t quite get his question and I didn’t take the time to get it either. I responded with, “What time did you get here?” His response, “10 minutes ago.” Me again, “we’re not excluding you, we are simply moving our chairs to accommodate a smaller group and we have just moved. It’s not intentional. We’ll make room for you.” We did, and the fellow moved his chair almost into the circle.
It turns out he was one of the people who arrived more or less on time. He stepped to the side of the room for coffee just before we started to move our chairs and since he was not in his chair, his chair did not get moved. When he came back to the circle, what he saw was the rest of us looking after ourselves. We did not even consider his chair. His question was very fair: “Why are you excluding me?”
After our check-in and launching into small group discussion, I approached the fellow and apologized. My reaction to the situation was not appropriate. While my reaction was not about him, but my frustration with the tardiness of many other people, I took it out on him. I so appreciate that he did not brush off my apology, but simply said I was wrong. He offered to accept my apology and let it go, and we dove into our work. He was wonderfully engaging all morning and took his place on the rim before we closed.
Prepare for the work. In my case, I did not get enough sleep for several nights and this is a contributing factor to my having a short fuse. Each day, each week, I choose how to prepare myself for the work I have to do.
Notice when my frustration levels are rising, note them, ask the circle for what I need, pause, and then respond. I reacted in appropriately to my frustration without acknowledging the fellow’s take on things. I was hosting the circle and I did not serve him, or the circle well.
Apologize immediately and sincerely. I am thankful that I noticed and apologized, but I wish I caught it sooner…
Share the apology with others, as appropriate. In the moment, I see now that I should have done it in a way that everyone could hear. That way I can model the agreements AND I can convey my frustration to the circle so we can all deal with it. The tardiness will certainly repeat itself and I will have a choice to make about my response to it.
When shrinking the circle, move others’ chairs first!
And as I explored this in my journal this afternoon, I noticed that the next several days of work are full of flexibility on how I will spend my time. I drew an oracle card asking where I should put my attention. My jaw dropped when I flipped it over: