My bathrobe is soft, warm, and best suited for a cold winter day and a hot cup of coffee. Yet it was over 90 degrees, and I wore my bathrobe in public. Not Walmart-public, but more public than the privacy of my home. You’re probably thinking I’ve gone off the deep end, but I assure you that’s not true.
Why did I wear my bathrobe in public? I was invited to a bathrobe party with a small group of women to celebrate completing (or almost completing, in my case) Summer Turner’s online course to help introverted women move forward while remaining in their comfort zones. (Yes, I am an introvert.) Some of the women I knew well, and others were acquaintances who I hoped to know better.
I was a little apprehensive about showing up at someone’s door in my bathrobe. So, I carried it with me telling myself that it was too hot to actually wear it and that no one else would be wearing theirs. When you go into a situation that is unfamiliar, you tend to hold back while you assess the environment and learn what is safe and what isn’t. Don’t we all do that? Of course we do, and it’s perfectly normal.
Isn’t that the same in your business? You have some employees who have been with you for a while who you know well, and others who have just joined your team who you don’t know well. Imagine how a new employee might feel joining your team. They’ll probably have very similar feelings to wearing a bathrobe in public.
What I learned while wearing my bathrobe in public is that when you are comfortable, doors open that would otherwise remain closed. The lessons in my experience can serve you well as you build a team in your business.
What if you saw your employees in their bathrobes? What could you learn about them that would make it easier to work with them or to understand them better? What if you gave everyone permission to show up in their bathrobes? What could happen?
I’ll tell you what happened with this group of women. We forged bonds, deepened our understanding of one another, laughed, and had more fun than we thought possible. Wouldn’t that be great in a work environment?
After my initial hesitation, I put on my robe and instantly felt relaxed. I was inside my comfort zone, as Summer Turner tells us all the time. When we were all in our comfort zones, we experienced the most caring, open, and honest sharing of who we are and what we hope to do. While we relaxed and enjoyed some special spa treatments, we talked about our pasts, our struggles, and how we are moving forward to meet our daily challenges.
Does your business have obstacles? Of course it does! What if your team could have caring, open, and honest sharing of ideas? Your business would be much different and could run a little more smoothly with less stress and tension.
We talked about our bathrobes and their history, and I also learned some interesting things about the women in the group that I may never have known if I had not been brave enough to wear my bathrobe. One bathrobe had traveled the world with the woman’s mother and was passed down to her. Another bathrobe had come from India, and the woman had worn it on the plane as a jacket because it wouldn’t fit in her suitcase. Another robe wasn’t really a robe, but comfortable PJs that had been with her for 30 years. One woman had a robe that she’d had for 38 years! Imagine keeping something in good condition (and it looked lovely and comfortable) for that long. My bathrobe was the youngest in the group and not as well-traveled, but it had been seen by the UPS delivery man a few times.
Not everyone in the group brought a robe. But by the end of the evening, they were saying how much fun it had been even though they weren’t wearing their bathrobes. Isn’t this the environment you want to create in your business, even if everyone is not alike? Imagine how wonderful it would feel to work in an environment where everyone was comfortable even if they were different from the others.
When you create an environment that allows people to show up in their bathrobes (not literally, of course), you create a culture of acceptance, openness, and trust. It allows your team to form strong bonds with one another. It opens lines of communication and promotes understanding. As we chatted in our bathrobes, we discussed our experiences with mean girls and bullying situations. Each of us had a story to tell. We empathized and supported one another. We laughed, became closer, and bonded. What would happen if your team experienced this kind of bonding as well?
Take a few moments and think about ways you can promote bonding among your team. How can you create a bathrobe environment that allows your team to grow stronger and more understanding of one another? What would this mean for your business in terms of productivity, efficiency, and eliminating the stress and problems of dealing with a team that does not perform well?
At the end of the day, we are all human and just want to be understood. Each of us has a bathrobe that we carry with us. Yours might have a hole in the pocket, a stain from that glass of red wine you spilled, or a mended tear from that time you saved your child from falling down the stairs. Most of the time your robe fits in your suitcase, neatly stowed in the luggage compartment of the plane. Other times, it’s worn out on the plane because your suitcase is full. And sometimes our bathrobe comforts us like that robe we’ve carried for 38 years.
Too often, we think that team building has to be some formal event like a retreat where you do trust falls and crazy outdoor adventures. But maybe it’s time to rethink team building and make it as simple as putting on your bathrobe and heading out in public.