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R.S.V.P. – Will you accept the invitation?

In the office yesterday a colleague gave you an invitation. Did you notice? Did you accept?

Don’t worry if not, because it will happen again today. In fact, once you become aware of it, you’ll notice that it happens all the time.

Just to be clear, a physical invitation being handed to you in a pink rose scented envelope inviting you to a party, which although might be nice, is not what I’m referring to. The type of invitation this post covers is much more subtle, easy to miss, but can also be much more powerful.

Here’s a typical scenario that happens to most of us each morning:

We walk into the office, past the reception desk and get into the lift. We then get off at our floor, wander round to our desk and (hopefully) greet our colleagues. We then set ourselves up for the day maybe by changing our shoes or getting a drink, then logging into our computers and checking email.

This simple routine is full of invitations. When you walk into the office the person / people on reception will often look up at you, they may even say something weird like ‘Good morning.’ This is an invitation to make eye contact and smile or offer a greeting in return. When you get into the lift someone may invite you to go in first, or to leave first when you arrive on the same floor. When you get to your desk and greet your colleagues there may be an invitation to discus what you did last night at home or to follow up on a conversation from yesterday. When you log into your computer to check email this is an invitation to distraction, and also to respond to questions or provide information that people may have asked for.

If you turn this on it’s head, these are all also opportunities for you to offer invitations. You could be the one to invite the reception staff to share a smile and a greeting, to invite someone to enter the lift before you, to be the one to ask your colleagues a personal question about their evening or to share a story about yours. And this is just in the first 5 mins of getting to work!!

The number of invitations you receive and have the opportunity to make throughout the day is HUGE. Not everyone will notice or accept your invitations. You will not always notice or accept everyone else invitations, but by bringing your awareness to this happening all around you, by actively looking for invitations from others and ways to offer invitations yourself, it can turn your day into a truly rewarding experience. It allows you to make deliberate choices about what invitations to accept or not. To challenge yourself to actively look out for and accept more invitations today than yesterday. To deliberately extend invitations to your colleagues.

After experimenting with this for the last 2 weeks I’ve found out the following bits of information about my colleagues that I didn’t know previously, despite working with them for the last 6 months.

One’s wife put on 4 stone during her first pregnancy (I didn’t even know he had a wife). One has 3 kids exactly the same age as my 3. One used to be a lawyer before switching to coding and one is a part time chef at weekends. All useless information? No. All very useful information when it comes to forming personal connections and finding common ground with other humans.

On top of that I’ve been on a team lunch. Been out for a walk and to get coffee with different people on 4 separate times. Found out the name of the cleaning lady at the gym. I’ve also noticed more people approach me and offer invitations than before too.

It seems this actually becomes a bit of  self-fulfilling prophecy. If you open yourself up to more opportunities to connect with the people around you and extend them to other people too, then it comes back at you. That’s why the people who sit with their headphones on all day, not making eye contact and isolating themselves are the ones you probably know the least about, and who know the least about you. They’re also the ones you’re least likely to extend an invite to.

With that in mind, I invite you to be open and present today. To deliberately look out for an accept an invitation. To offer at least 1 invitation. Something different to normal. Something you’ve not done before. It feels good. Don’t take it personally if they don’t accept, the beauty here is in your awareness and positive intention. Sometimes that’s all we need…


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