It’s so important to learn how to call people in. It makes all the difference in the world, if you’re hoping to make a difference in the world (even if it’s just your corner of the world).

You wanna have a better relationship with your partner? Learn to call them in. You want a better relationship with your kids? Learn to call them in. Want a better team experience at work, with your employees/colleagues/boss? Learn to call them in.

This is the second step in the four-part series on learning how to call people in. Even though I think all four steps are are equally as important, I think that having grace, and actively practicing having more of it, in particular, is sort of the glue that holds all of these steps together.

Without further ado:

1. Being Responsible versus Being Righteous
2. Holding Grace versus Holding Judgment
3. Inspiring versus Convincing
4. Being Curious versus Being Right

Holding Grace versus Holding Judgment

This one. Oh, but this one is important. We are all gonna need a boatload of grace in this life. And not like a canoe or a dinghy, either. Think cruise-ship-sized grace.

That’s a lot of grace. And lord knows we need it. Have you seen us lately? I mean, wow.

You know how you need to hold space for little kids to learn manners and how to share and how to hold a spoon, even though it’s frustrating at the time and seems like they’ll never get it? Yeah, I’m talking about that level of grace. We need dealing-with-a-toddler-level grace if we’re going to be hanging around humans at the best of times.

And let’s be honest, this is not the best of times. The whole damn world has lost its collective mind, and we’re all arguing over the right way to hold a spoon.

The ability to hold space and have grace is incredibly important when you have a disagreement in beliefs and practices with a person or group of people (e.g. wearing a mask or not, practicing social distancing or not, learning about systemic racism and white privilege/fragility).

You may well be right about whatever you’re calling them out for. But remember, they think they’re right, too. That person over there? They’re likely not actively committed to doing the wrong thing, or harming you and yours. Most people are doing the best they can with what they know and believe. Just like you and me.

This is a “there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I” thing. You and I have both been misinformed, uninformed and righteous about many things (in my case, many, many things).

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been wrong/uninformed/mistaken quite frequently in my life. I’ve also experienced both being held in judgment and condemnation and ridicule during those times, and being held in understanding and grace. Of the two options, only one really motivated me to open up, expand, learn, grow and shift (hint: it was not the first option). The other tends to have me dig in, cross my arms and close my ears and my heart.

Your judgment and condemnation likely won’t move them closer to where you’re wanting them to be, but your grace—that is, your compassion and kindness and patience and forgiveness—may give them enough space that they can let down their defenses and actually listen, learn and empathize, so that they can discover, and know better and then do better.

Remember those times when you’ve been called out for something? Remember when you’ve been corrected? How did you feel in those moments? Eager to change your beliefs and actions, or resentful, wrong and foolish? Yeah, me too (the latter).

Attacking someone for being where they are on their path is like shouting at an toddler because they’re not toilet trained yet. How do you suppose that would work? At best, perhaps cultivating fear might garner some cooperation, but it’s not very effective, they don’t see the point—they’re simply trying to avoid your wrath/ridicule/abuse, and it’s not very pleasant for anyone.

Shutting someone down will not open them up. How could it? It doesn’t even make sense to read in the last sentence, let alone expect it to work in real life.

Grace is getting that it’s hard to learn something new, especially in public for all to see. In order to learn, we must necessarily do something wrong, or at least not optimally, first. That’s actually HOW we learn. It’s not a shortcoming, or failure, or foible.

Calling someone out for something is helpful, because, as we talked about last week, none of us can see our blindspots, and we need others to reflect them to us in order for us to change and grow. But belittling someone, questioning their intelligence or morals, holding them with contempt and derision? It makes people contract, and lean away, which is the opposite of what we need and want them to do.

We need to have space to grow and learn, and when we practice having grace for people, we may well be the only ones to graciously hold space for them to unlearn old beliefs and grow into new ones.

Oh, and by the way: the lack of space you have for someone else being where they are instead of where you think they should be? That’s just a mirror for how little space you have for yourself and your own humanity. #awkward

How much grace do you grant yourself when you mess something up? How much space do you have for your own weaknesses, shortcomings and mistakes? I’m gonna go ahead and guess that you don’t have all that much, mostly because I haven’t met too many people who are naturally overflowing with grace and space for their humanity.

For all that we are called human beings, you’d think we’d be more open to our humanity, but the truth is we mostly have to learn a) that we are, in fact, humans, and b) that it is okay to be human.

Confession: I am an extremely judgmental person. Honestly, at this point, it’s like a hobby of mine, and one that I actually quite enjoy. I didn’t use to be able to enjoy it, though, because what kind of human, let alone a coach, has judgments on other people? Nasty, mean, hypocritical ones. And my judgments weren’t limited to the people outside of me; oh no—my external assessments were just the overflow of the incessant parade of internal judgments, criticism and condemnation I had heaped on myself for All Of Time.

I even judged myself for being judgmental. What a fun game. I always got to win, even when I lost, but the prize was garbage.

I had to do a lot of work to cover up my shitty, critical judgmental nature. One day, though, I got tired of the game, and suddenly, I could see that there was nothing wrong with having my judgments, but there was also nothing necessarily right about them, either. Once I realized that my judgments meant mostly nothing about them over there, then I didn’t have to take my judgments so seriously (i.e. fight with myself and the universe about how everything was wrong everywhere).

I could see that my judgments meant mostly nothing about anything, including myself. The fact that I have an endless procession of judgments bouncing around inside my head? It’s meaningless. All those shoulds and musts faded away. There was freedom in understanding that I was a human, and humans are constantly perceiving the world around them and making meaning about everything, and that was neither right nor wrong: it just was.

So, we need to practice having grace. Taking a breath instead of shouting. Seeing people as capable of growing and learning and changing, and giving them the space and compassion to do it, just like you would with a toddler, or with seeds you plant in a garden.

The added bonus here? If you practice having grace with yourself, you’ll have that much more space to have grace with others, and vice versa. That’s a win-win.

Stay tuned for the third step in how to call people in, next week!