A few weeks ago, I attended a regional housing conference. This was the first time I have attended a housing conference, as I recently made the shift into residence life. Simply put, my conference experience was incredible. I loved the opportunity to connect with so many other professionals, learn from colleagues at other institutions, explore a campus I had never visited, spend lots of quality time with my coworkers, and escape the regular work week for some time to reenergize my love of the student affairs profession.
With this being my first conference after graduate school, I found it invigorating to have so many connections to content I learned in graduate school. Even more invigorating was that the content was presented in such creative approaches. Although the topic areas seemed familiar, I appreciated that information was presented from different perspectives and incorporated different ways to connect with the audience. These sessions were a great reminder that learning is such an ongoing process and sharing individual learning moments or experiences help others reconnect with topics we sometimes push to the sideline. One presenter reminded me to be happy and share my gratitude, while another expanded on the importance of second-year students not being forgotten in the jungle of expectations that faces second-year students. I appreciated hearing senior housing officers sharing their journeys within the field, while another individual helped me reconsider the importance of teaching rather than simply showing, in an effort to help students recognize their own strengths and potential.
As the educational sessions went by, I continued thinking about how much of a conference revolves around connections and gratitude. We all come from various institutions to a hotel to connect. We are able to connect with old friends and colleagues, connect with new professionals, connect about what is working for our respective institutions, and (for some) reconnect with the rejuvenating feeling of loving our work. With these connections, where is our gratitude? How often do we share our appreciation of others? Are we saying thank you, or are we saying it enough? It was remarkable that one of the few standing ovations at the conference was for the dining staff. How often does that happen? In my perspective, not enough.
The language we use in our everyday lives can be so important in how we carry ourselves. If someone holds the door for you, are you saying “thank you” or just smile at them? When you hold the door and someone says thank you, do you say “my pleasure” or is “no problem” your response? Or, my all-time favorite question, “How are you doing?” can generate the best responses of, “fine, swamped, okay, stressed, got a lot to do” or the ultimate response…“busy.” This response of busy is sure getting to be something I hear too many times a day, think about often, and believe is overused in our world. Why are we rushing through these gracious gestures of asking how some is doing, holding a door, or even saying thank you? It’s pretty cool to realize that taking a few moments to help others and make someone’s day can do wonders to the soul. Yes, it might not be a problem that you held the door for someone, but wasn’t it pleasing to help someone in their day? Think about if you are rushing through important opportunities to develop relationships by failing to recognize brief moments to share gratitude?
I sit here and wish I had a way to take away some of the “busy” from everyone’s lives, even just for an hour or two, so I could give them an hour of time to do something they enjoy. I know I am guilty of forgetting to use gracious language all the time, but how can we begin to incorporate these gracious acts and responses in our daily lives? Hopefully this can be a reminder to us all to consider how often we responded that we are busy or just nod our head when in reality we can spare a moment or two to foster relationships and make someone’s day just a little brighter.
> BONUS <
Podcast With Joe Ginese on Maximizing Conferences