Recently I was at a women’s networking event for the holiday season. We dined on fabulous food and networked, and then came the entertainment – us!
Each table was given a booklet with many lyrics to many Christmas songs, and each table was given the option to sing.
Well, I write “option” but what really emerged was “peer pressure”.
As each table got up in turn, the table I was at was feeling more and more uncomfortable. Sure, some of my table-mates had great voices, but being a good singer doesn’t mean you necessarily want to perform. And some of us aren’t good singers. And then, there was just the plain old after-dinner fatigue… Yet one of my table-mates was related to another woman at another table, so family peer-pressure also meant that our table couldn’t escape notice.
Eventually, all of the other tables had performed and we were the only ones left to sing for our supper. We delayed, couldn’t agree on a song, and the pressure mounted.
Have you ever been in a situation like this? Where you feel the pressure – all the eyes on you – to do a job that really, isn’t a big deal, but it’s overwhelming at the time? Where you feel like you have to deliver, even if you don’t really want to? Where the pressure gets to the point of ridiculousness, and you just want to leave in a huff and go home?
Well here’s what happened.
Some of the women at a table near us got up and came over. “Here,” they said. “Turn to page 7 – let’s sing that one.” And we all got up with our new colleagues, and we all sang.
I don’t even remember what the song was that was on that page – but I do remember a woman from the other table giving a high-five to one of the women at my table, saying “That’s the sisterhood.”
We were supported. No one did it for us – and no one let us off the hook. But what it did take was a friendly empathetic other saying, “Here you go – we can do this together.”
The next time you see someone else who is stuck, you have options. You can leave them alone. You can add to the growing pressure. You can offer to do the task for them. Or you can offer to do it together.
That’s the spirit of the season. Together, we’re better.
Thank you all. I am very mindful and grateful for those who are together with me. You make me better.
For more on empathy, you may enjoy this amazing video from RSA, based on an extract from a Brene Brown talk: