I was sitting on the red sofa you see behind me, I said on the Zoom call.

I corrected myself.

Actually, I was sobbing

There’s a canyon between sitting and sobbing, a vastness in how you understand me sitting on my red couch and me sobbing on the red couch. And that’s what I realized in the moment I varnished the truth just that tiny bit.

It came up in a group of people I didn’t know well, none of whom I’d met in person and only a handful with whom I’d been in a virtual room for more than an hour.

It wasn’t that I’d been snotty crying

The important thing was that I let others see me as I really am. In doing so, I freed my colleagues on that call to tell the truth about their world. While my very brief story was personal, the same applies when a work project is in trouble and people feel safe to say so.

Even on a huge Zoom call, people can feel close

It’s called experience design. I’ve learned from Jenny Sauer-Klein to do it with my own groups and workshops. The idea is that people learn best when they feel connected. And a trained facilitator can make a live or virtual room of 300 strangers feel as closely connected as they were sitting around a small conference table.

So the thing about sobbing on the red sofa came up in a monthly meeting.

If I really knew I was creative, I would…  

For that final prompt, I wrote,… Trust that the creative stuff I do feeds my business and life… design my office to support my creativity. 

Then, with some Zoom magic,  our screens went dark, except for three of us in the spotlight.

I pointed to the red sofa in my background. As I was I sitting on that sofa yesterday. No, as I was sobbing on that sofa yesterday…

A small example of psychological safety 

It’s not what I said, but that I felt safe to say it. That sense of safety to say what’s really happening occurs in the teams, whether in-person or on Zoom, that prioritize connection and create spaces where the humans have fun, speak up or disagree, and to bring their whole selves to work.

PS. Meet Argus, the gorgeous Black Labrador Retriever puppy (107 pound guy!) that we rescued this week. He’s a year old and hardly trained, so I’m focusing on just getting his attention!