Ever consider how huge the word “small” is? That thought came to me as I was participating in a writing / journaling workshop last night hosted by my good friend Jeanne Guy. She instructed us to ponder and write about the word “small” for five minutes. My first thought was, “What!?! Just five minutes???”
I wanted to negotiate for at least 10. But that Jeanne, she runs a tight ship.
It wasn’t hard to come up with thoughts on the subject of small. Immediately I remembered a Japanese word Kevin Hall wrote about in his wonderful book Aspire. The word is “genshai” (pronounced GEN-shy). It means “to never treat people in a manner that would make them feel small.”
What a great word to remember. In relationships, in communicating, in business, in networking. Anytime, really. Genshai.
I confess here and now: I know I’ve made others feel small by pure social clumsiness and via my sometimes introverted nature; by being thoughtless, distracted, and neglectful; by being fearful, frustrated, tired, or caught up in my own stuff; by being an arrogant know-it-all or by letting my mouth take over before my heart or brain was engaged; by being in a snappy or ornery mood I couldn’t manage or contain; or by simply being distracted or in a hurry. Lots of excuses, but for the record, if I’ve ever made you feel small, I am truly and terribly sorry! Please forgive me. I’ve been made to feel small many times in my life and it feels like crap. You don’t deserve that. No one does.
We’ve all felt small at one time or another. We can feel particularly small when we’ve made a mistake or are experiencing failure, loss, the searing heat of embarrassment, or the iciness of unworthiness. We can also feel small when another human has ignored us or treated us poorly or with disrespect. Feeling small also can happen when we walk into a room and don’t know a soul or when we’re “new” to a group and want to fit in. Or we can feel small when we seek buy-in to an idea or want to capture a new opportunity — and nothing we do brings the response we want. How about this one: when we take the stage or podium, our palms sweat, out mouths feel like cotton, our thoughts race, and/or the audience seems disinterested or disengaged. When we bleed from the forehead as we attempt to pen a blog that we’re certain no one will read or “get” or like or comment on or forward or retweet or even care about.
Small is human. Small is universal. But, you know what? We can become bigger through small. It just depends on how we think about it and respond to it. What are your thoughts on small? (And, yes, you can have more than five minutes.)
Feeling small as you’re out networking, trying to make contacts and friends? If you’ve not already read my book The Intentional Networker, I pinky-swear promise it can help you right-size yourself and give you lots of aha’s about how to Live, Work & Connect at a Higher Level(tm). Order it here. Or, let’s set aside some time to chat about how we can work together. Email me at patti[at]intentionalnetworker[dot]com.