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Happy Summer in Maine!

Some folks have a boat. Some folks have a camp. I have a barn. I spend my vacation money at the lumber yard!

I love it actually. Carpentry is such a nice change of pace for me. A different kind of thinking.

In the first photo is the week-one-crew: Ezra and Porter just starting their summer tans. High school kids from the neighborhood. And Jack is on the ladder.

For me, there is something very grounding about gettin stuff done. Stuff you can see. In my work I help groups build agreements but rarely get to see the stuff that happens after. The results.

And fractions. Gotta love working with a tape measure and fractions for a change. And doing math with a pencil on a board. It is SO not digital.

My mom taught me that the magic of vacation is that it’s different. A dramatic switch from the normal. For me vacation doesn’t have to be sitting in a chair to be relaxing. Doing a project with the neighborhood kids works great for me.

I hope that you are finding and doing what you love this summer. Whatever it is.

Talks and Training are the Fall Focus

I am blessed with more work coming in than I can handle. I turn away a lot. Demand is running high right now.

Yet it’s critical work. It’s helping groups resolve conflicts. It’s helping groups prevent mishaps. It’s helping groups make good decisions about our environment, healthcare, education, and farmland. It’s helping people understand each other and make peace across differences.

So I’ve decided to focus on talks and training for the Fall and Winter of 2022. I want to build capacity in others. The world needs more facilitators to do this critical work. Maine needs more facilitators. More group facilitation skills are not gonna hurt anyone in any role!

I’m currently designing a multi-day facilitation course to be offered in the Fall, I’m also working on some other new training sessions. If you were hoping for me to facilitate your Fall board retreat, you might be out of luck. But if you want to book some Fall training, let’s talk.

My new book Together We Decide comes out in September, so this is another natural reason to pivot to Talks and Training for the Fall. There’s a lot in the book that I want to talk about! And train you on.

Thank you for understanding and supporting my choice to ramp down facilitation and ramp up training. To help make more facilitators. At least that’s the plan.

Shows of Respect

Photo by Jim McCarthy

Even when you don’t know someone – wait, especially when you don’t know someone – it works well to show respect. Works with people you know too. Even works with people you don’t like. As a practical matter, when you show respect to someone – whoever they are — you’re more likely to get a positive outcome. And it’s so easy to do. Wonder we don’t do it more.

What is a show of respect? First, it’s a show. A demonstration. It’s visible, intended to get noticed. It’s something a little out of the ordinary, on purpose. Like holding a door or bowing a head. It’s visibly making an effort.

A show of respect says: “This moment is special. I’m glad to be in it with you. Even if fleeting.” Sometimes a show of respect happens in a flash; an eye-to-eye glance that says “I believe in you.”

One way to show respect is to get someone’s name right. Or at least try. And that includes pronouns, last name, pronunciation, and maybe their title. Ask someone: “How would you like to be called?” Making these efforts says, “I’m trying to make friends with you.”

When I go to a funeral I wear black. When I go to a gym I wear sweats. When I go to a birthday party I take a gift. It says “I am bending for you.” And sometimes it’s sticking out and showing respect for something against the grain, like taking a knee at a football game.

Sometimes shows of respect seem not extraordinary at all, but we still see them. It’s answering a question when asked. It’s calling at 10am when I said I would call at 10am. It’s leaving the kitchen clean, or a note.

The things is, these are all voluntary. No one will notice or care if you don’t do these things. Rather, think of them as opportunities. These are free, easy, low-risk ways to increase your chances of getting better outcomes with every single person you meet. Shows of respect can cost next-to-nothing and bring valuable benefits.

Oh. There’s another thing. It works extra well if you believe it; you know, if you do actually respect the person. If you truly believe that there is something sacred in each person you meet, your belief will come out in shows of respect. You don’t have to force or fake anything. The best shows of respect come straight from the heart.

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