I’m learning that laughing together builds trust.
It has been hard starting a new job with GOHOP during covid. There are some in person meetings with masks but the majority of my interactions have still been on Zoom. In a normal year all of these meetings would have started with an informal meal. A time set aside for chitchat, jokes and getting to know each other. At first I thought all my awkwardness, feelings of disconnect, and difficulty concentrating were just part of the transition of the new job combined with Zoom fatigue. Eventually I realized I was having just as much trouble in person as online. I also noticed I had no problem connecting online with some other circles. In those circles I realized that I was even enjoying the Zoom meetings and coming away energized.
I had an epiphany, I realized that the Zoom meetings that I was able to fully engage with were the ones full of laughter. I realized I was missing the “wasted” time of jokes and chitchat about family, music, movies, comic books, etc…
I realized that it is all that laughter, smiles and fun stuff before or after the formal meeting or class that allows me to build up a trust in the people around me. For me I need the laughter to make the circle feel safe.
Under the advice of my spiritual director I shared these thoughts and feelings with my boss (since I work for an urban monastic movement technically he is my Abbot). He thanked me for sharing and not bottling it up. The very next Zoom meeting I was in led by my Abbot began with everyone sharing about a movie or fiction novel they had recently watched or read. The agenda allotted 30 minutes for this, but it ended up being almost 45. I was beaming through it all. It was fun and people were laughing and jotting down shows and books that were being recommended. After all that “wasted” time, we still had a lot of work and learning to do, but for me it was the first time I was able to fully engage and be present. It felt good, it felt right and I felt connected.