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Recognizing Slights of the Round Table

My Zoom Thought Exercise to Envision Diversity and Improve Communication

You may find yourself on zoom to have any number of meetings. For clubs, workplace, volunteer organizations, faith-based groups, activism. Does your group seem to be quite similar? Or often think alike? Do you want to envision diversity in any of its forms in your group?

Here’s my thought exercise I’d like to share with you (I have yet to test it but will do so soon):

We take a breath in and out and then close our eyes.

We are gathered here to share time and thoughts and ideas together in this brave space.

With our eyes still closed, we see zoom on our screen. It contains a wall of faces each in its own box. Some may be without video. Just a box with a name.

Now with our minds we touch that zoom screen. We transform it with our thoughts into a circular form.

A round table. We touch its smooth surface.

Imagine this table has several seats with no one in them yet.

Where do these empty seats occur around the table?

Maybe it’s a chair next to us? Or we have empty chairs on either side of us at this table?

Can we envision who might join us at this table?

Who are they? What are their expressions? Their emotions?

What would they say?

How does it feel for us to listen to these visitors?

When we share time at this table, are we speaking in a way that invites, welcomes, and acknowledges the presence of those not yet here with us in these chairs?

Are we only speaking with those we hope might join our group?

Are we reaching out into the fabric of our neighborhood? Our community?

Do we visualize people different from us? How are they different?

Think of people who might wish to avoid our group. Maybe they might laugh and politely say, “No thanks.”

Who are they? What do you think might be reasons they don’t want to join?

How does our group share this table with those people? How do we share common ground with them?

Take a breath in and a breath out.

Can we envision filling these chairs at this table? What do we need to do as a group to create that table where people come and carry the spirit of that table with them when they leave?

What perceptions are we creating with our words and actions that keeps us insular and separate?

We may feel a tightness or a worry. Take another breath in and out.

Lean into those uncomfortable thoughts because touching on those might be the way this group grows and develops more diversity.

Our time here has come to a close. Now we gather that circular table into our hearts. We look for what we can say that invites open conversation. To listen fully is to envision a circle where all are equal.

We breathe in and out. And we slowly open our eyes. We return to view zoom again.

Thank you reading this post. I invite suggestions and critiques. I hope it might help you or your group find a sense of renewal while depending on zoom and remote styles of communication during the pandemic. It's a challenge to keep people together right now in remote ways. But this time apart can be a time to reflect and realize habits and practices that keep us apart or keep us from growing in diversity.

My watercolor sketch of a whole note

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