Hostmanship, the art of making people feel welcome, is more than just a beautiful thought. It’s something that comes alive in words and deeds. Often it expresses itself through a pair of hands.
I read about a study done in a hospital in Scandinavia. The first day when it was time for the daily round the doctor came in to the patients with a nurse and as usual the they stood at the end of the bed and asked patients how they felt. “Well, thank you, it feels a little better,” “A little sore,”, ”When will I be discharged?” and so on. The next day during the round the doctor came in, pulled out a chair, sat down at the side of the patient and asked how they felt while they stroked a hand along the arm of the patient. Day three researchers came in and asked what physicians, patients preferred. Everyone wanted the doctor who was there on day 2. When asked why they responded; “because she took the time, sat down and talked for a while with me.” What the patients didn´t know was that the doctors on day 1 and day 2 had been with each patient the same amount of time, it was more the feeling, the perception that it was not so. A chair and a comforting hand had made all the difference.
Sometimes invisible hands had been there to eliminate something, to add something to make someone
feel welcome, Hostmanship is often about something guests never notice. Everything we do is for someone not to feel unwelcome, which funnily enough, many times is easier to detect than when we feel welcome.
If during a day we visit five different stores and we feel welcomed in four of them, but encounters a snotty person in the fifth, which store we talk about when we get home?
But back to hands. They are all over the place. At the dentist when the nurse put her hand on my shoulder when the drill is taking off. On the flight when someone is a little scared of flying. The lack of human touch you can read about sometimes, how little kids who never get to feel a hand or a hug, affected by it. In some exercises in selfcompassion groomed man put his hand over his heart to confirm itself. I’ve done an exercise where I say “It’s okay sweetie” while patting myself on the cheek, when I feel a little unhappy. The touch.
What is it that makes them come forward? Without an motive that we will get something back. They just want to reach out..
And maybe more important , can we train our hands to do it?
These are two questions I leave to you. It may be worthwhile to share some thoughts on, perhaps in the break room or at the next meeting.
If we handle people with a welcoming hand it will make a big difference.