This past week in my session, there was a guy in the back. He was all of the things you might think “a guy in the back” might be. On his phone. Non-responsive to questions. A wiseass when he did answer. Mostly checked out.
I close out most of my sessions with the, “What was most useful to you?” reflection question. Not only does it help guage what was most useful to the group, but it’s also a great way for people to write down and synergize what they learned and how they’re going to take action.
Day one, guy in the back responded to that question with an accusatory and dismissive, “I don’t know why I am here…” I guess since he was confused as to why he was there, nothing was useful to comment on.
As it would turn out, the material probably WASN’T specifically relevant to his role. It was definitely a “my boss sent me” situation. I get it. I’ve been there. I’ve taught plenty of people who were in a class not really knowing why.
Here’s what I don’t get…why, if you had to sit in a session for 6 hours, would you actively not try to learn anything? Why, if you were in a session, would you spend the energy to shut everything out?
While the material wasn’t exactly for him, there were plenty of nuggets one could grab onto for general life purposes. There were conversations that were had with his peers that maybe he could have contributed to. Instead, his sole mission was to resist taking anything in.
Day two, when I asked about his most useful moment, he loudly protested, “There’s no reason I’m here! I do not know!” Like why are you asking me, lady?!
My response: “Oh, right, yes, I should have skipped you. Who’s next, Brian?”
He was NOT having that. He did a double take…he stuttered and sputtered…trying to defend his response. Trying to get me to engage and beg him to share something. I, however, had moved on.
He did not enjoy my lack of attention, response, or reaction. I guess his rules were he could be dismissive of me, the class, and the teachings for two days, but the minute that someone didn’t care to hear what he (didn’t) have to say, it was as if the rules of the game were being applied to him and he didn’t like it.
In the past, I would have spent all of my energy making sure he “got one takeaway.”
I would have gone back to my hotel room and ruminated about how I could connect with “the guy in the back” and how could I make the material relevant to him. I would have put in a whole lot of effort making sure he was engaged and involved and responsive. I would have put a whole lot of my energy into something completely out of my control. I have come to realize those sorts of actions are beneficial to no one, especially me.
He chose to spend his energy actively disengaged.
I chose to spend my energy on the other people in the session. I chose to not give him another minute of thought (except in the writing of this newsletter!) because isn’t that always the way…the disengaged, the unaccountable, the checked-out ones always suck our energy. They pretend they don’t want it…but that’s all they want.
In the past, I held myself up to an “I must win over and connect with 100% of the people in the room!” standard. Now, not so much. Now, my standard is measured through energy exchange. I’ve got plenty to give…but I need to get a little back. I DO give my all, but now I am more aware of who gets to keep receiving it. Now, I choose to spend my energy on those who give it back.
Are you working with someone who uses their energy to deflect? Reject? Whine? Resist? Refuse? Dramatize? Complain? Are you giving them more of your energy than the person who is engaged? Asking questions? Wants to learn? Wants to be there?
Check yourself. Check your energy. See who is feeding it and who is sucking it…and feel free to skip them like I did “guy in the back.”
We’ve all got limited reserves…let’s watch who we are giving them to.