Come browse my monthly blog-style posts to see some of the inspiration behind my heart for hospitality and the resulting Old Southern Charm party products.
January 2018: HOSPITALITY INSIGHTS: Here’s To More Front Porch Sitting
I came across a great article over the holidays called “Why Northerners Will Never Get Southern Hospitality”. The title alone captured my attention and made me chuckle, but the heart of the material gave me genuine pause in the midst of the Christmas chaos. Author Roy Blount, Jr. writes:
“Before air-conditioning, climate was a factor [to hospitality]. In the South, people were more likely to be sitting on the porch when folks [walked by]. You couldn’t pretend not to be home when there you were, sitting on [your] porch. You could pretend to be dead, but then you couldn’t fan yourself.”
Oh the irony! But seriously, how do we get back to this? No, not the pretending to be dead part. The part where our culture had the time, energy, and good manners to make neighbors feel welcome. Hospitality has an innate selflessness about it. The act of cooking for others, serving a drink, and chit-chatting on the porch personify human emotions. Being hospitable tells your guests “you matter more to me in this moment than anything else.” (Note to self: resist the urge to check your cellphone!) Above all else, the art of hospitality teaches a simple lesson: other people come first. I’m looking forward to carrying that mantra into the new year.
Roy Blout’s full article can be found here: https://www.rd.com/funny-stuff/southern-hospitality/
January 2018: TIPS AND TIDBITS: Make New Friends: Listen and L.A.U.G.H.
So you’ve found new friends “on the front porch” or crossing paths in your everyday life. Now what? Southerners are stereotypically good at starting conversations. It’s in our genes to be friendly. But if you struggle to get past social graces and talking about the weather, try this tip: Listen and L.A.U.G.H.
L – Listen (Yes, this is repetitive on purpose)
- Active listening connects you more to someone than anything else. Do you know the difference is listening versus active listening? The latter wholeheartedly engages in listening during the one-way conversation (insert head nod). Regular listening means you have physically stopped talking, but you’re mentally creating your grocery list or thinking about what you’re going to do this weekend. Try your hand at active listening next time you’re having a conversation. It’s harder than you’d think!
A – Affirm
- Provide words of affirmation to show that you’re hearing your new friend and actively listening. Have you read Gary Chapman’s The 5 Love Languages ? If you haven’t, it’s great and it really helps you understand how people connect. Words of Affirmation are HUGE. Don’t forget head nods, “uh huhs”, smiles, and laughs too. It’s the little things in life!
U – Understand Where This Person Is Coming From
- Ok, this “Tips and Tidbits” article has included a LOT of advice about making other people feel special. But, heck, you’re part of this conversation right?! Don’t sell yourself short in all of this listening and affirming. You have had unique life experiences that can help and support others. The conversation is (hopefully) leading to something you can share about yourself. If you’ve never experienced what your soon-to-be friend is talking about, that’s ok too. Simply trying to sympathize with where they’re coming from goes a long way too. Remember to ask questions that show you’re interested and willing to understand what is being discussed!
G – Be Genuine
- You’ve worked so hard at being an active listener. Now here’s the test. Does your authentic self still fit in with the conversation? Interject where you see fit. If you’ve been truly engaged for a few minutes and either have no clue what they’re talking about or don’t see how you can help/support your new friend, it may be time to change the subject. Finding commonalities is the BEST part of a budding friendship. Keep working at it and hopefully your interests will click.
H – Hug It Out
- This sounds crazy, you’ve just met this person! But, ya’ll. There is something about getting a hug that connects you to people! I came across the “Happyologist” recently. Susanna is a fun, upbeat blogger that I’d love to have a Listen & L.A.U.G.H. conversation with. She wrote a great article about hugs and their health benefits:
- It lowers your blood pressure, especially if you’re feeling anxious
- It lowers cortisol, the stress hormone
- It can increase your social connections and sense of belonging
Sounds pretty good right? So try these tips in your own encounters and see where they may lead. Hopefully straight to a new, reciprocated friendship, but if not, engaging in a little Listen & L.A.U.G.H. will only strengthen your existing friendships too.