In our daily lives, there are many opportunities to participate in gatherings. Gatherings in which we perhaps meet different people and socialize on a birthday party, or gatherings like at the end of a meeting in a company without any results due to conflicts. Normally, we seem to match different gathering forms with specific forms of labels. Instead of following specific gathering forms, we can make gatherings more meaningful.
Priya Parker, the author of “The Art of Gathering: How We Meet and Why It Matters” shared a Ted Talk about 3 ways we can change the everyday get-together to a more meaningful gathering by human connection, which are: “embrace a specific disputable purpose, cause good controversy, and create a temporary alternative world through the use of pop-up rules.”
The meaning by “embrace a specific dispute purpose” is often times when we go to a friends birthday party, with nothing but carrying a gift to attend and having a great night with the birthday friend. If carrying presents to a friends birthday party is part of it, then as one of the participants, we can invite every friend to share the growth they’ve seen about the birthday boy in the past year instead.
You might think this is too much for a birthday party, it’s a little weird, but in other points of view, when each attendee speaks out the growth about the birthday boy from their perspective, we can make the atmosphere of the birthday party more enjoyable. To some extent, “embrace a specific dispute purpose” not only makes the gathering more meaningful, but on the other hand, it can be a great opportunity for people to learn and engage from different perspectives.
The second way of creating more meaningful everyday gatherings is “to cause good controversy”. Often times inside meetings where different people have different opinions, if delivered very bluntly, your opinion will cause conflict easily, bagging opinions is a better route, everyone around the table can share a story from their own experience with concept of their opinion that nobody has heard before. You may hear a story you have not heard before, giving people a way to get to know each other without being straightforward and looking to face conflict. The benefit of “to cause good controversy” is every member in the meeting is able to give their thoughts; on the other hand, people can avoid some unnecessary conflicts. Therefore, team coherence can be enhanced by knowing each other and the gathering becomes more harmonious.
For the third way of creating a more meaningful everyday gathering, it is to “create a temporary alternative world through the use of pop-up rules.” Nowadays, there are many people who participate in gatherings and reunions and naturally use the phone instead of having a face-to-face conversation. If catching up is one of the purposes of the reunion, we can make a rule that whenever someone touches their phone, that person should pay the bill for the meal.
Another example is the Chinese New Year holiday, it’s the time of the year where the entire family gathers including the cousins who you’re not familiar with. A few of them might show off their job titles and achievements in life so far, however, this might create an inferiority complex and competition among each other. In such circumstances, the people who are bragging and boasting should buy drinks as a gesture and keep the environment light. This would make those others who feel inferior, more comfortable and more content with the reunion. To make the reunion more meaningful people should share their experiences that they’ve learned with their families because everyone can learn about each other in ways they’d never expected.
Gathering is a time to make each other condense, it allows us to be among others, to be seen for who we are and knowing ourselves better because the way we gather is how we live.